Of Mice and Men and American Dream Essay

Hopes and dreams are important in ‘Of Mice and Men. ’ Not is it important to the characters of the story itself, it is the theme of the novel. In this essay I will talk about the hopes and dreams of the main ensemble and also about the context of the novel, the American Dream and the Great Depression on the 1930’s. I will also talk about the poem Steinbeck based the book’s title off and how important it is to the book’s overall theme. The dream of attaining land and – ultimately – happiness is one which motivates nearly every character.

George often speaks to Lennie of a farm where the two of them can live in peace “an’ live off the fatta the lan’. ” In these instances, at the novel’s opening and its ending, George is the accomplished actor and Lennie the entranced audience. So compelling is this dream that when Candy learns of it, he quickly offers his pension so that he can have a part of the dream’s reality. Even Crooks, who through suffering has been rendered worldly and cynical, asks if he may hoe a patch of garden on Lennie’s farm one day.

Although Curley and his wife do not share George and Lennie’s pleasant fantasy, their dreams are also typically American: Curley wishes for utter respect and dominion over the other workers and Curley’s wife reveals before her death how she “coulda been in the movies. ” Crooks rightly sums it up when he says, “I seen hundreds of men … come, an’ they quite an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. ” And what is the point of having these dreams? Most of the characters have expressed their personal unhappiness in their situation.

Before the novel even begins, circumstances have denied the characters their desires. Candy lost his hand in an accident and constantly lives in the fear that he will no longer be useful to the ranch and will have outstayed his welcome. Curley’s wife married a man who she professes not to like. Crooks is black and therefore faces all of the racial prejudice that comes with being the only black man on the ranch. Out of all the main characters, Slim is the only one who has no desire attain the unattainable.

He is at ease with his situation, and by comparing the contrast of his state with the other characters, one can only assume that the others have their dreams because of their reluctance to accept that the world is a harsh place. Only the innocent can take comfort from dreams and with his childlike characteristics, Lennie represented innocence itself. His innocence influences the other characters, George most obviously. “(Lennie) usta like to hear about (getting the farm) so much,” reveals George near the end of the novel, “I got to thinking maybe we would. That is why hope is so important to the ‘Of Mice and Men’ characters. ‘Of Mice and Men’ is reflective of the time it was written, during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Many Americans naively assumed that California was a place where one could start anew and own land. This dream for land and for untarnished happiness was called the American Dream. The reality was that many Californians were unemployed and struggling to even have bread on the table. Born in Salinas, California, in 1902, Steinbeck must have witnessed for himself the hopelessness of the American Dream.

He wrote that Lennie’s “earthly longings … was not to represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men. ” In saying that, he suggested that the dreams and hopes of the American people were pertinent to the novel. The title of the book itself implies how important dreams are to the story. ‘Of Mice and Men’ refers to a poem by Robert Burns. It tells how “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” often go astray, how they end up bringing “nought but grief an’ pain” and only promise future happiness.

Throughout the novel this theme is prevalent. George and Lennie come within inches of achieving their dream but in the end it is thwarted, fatally. It turns out that Crooks is right when he bitterly quips: “Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. ” Although ‘Of Mice and Men’ is by no means an historical novel, Steinbeck was out to prove a point. The themes in the novel were perfectly translatable to real life. This is a predatory world where the strong live and the weak die.

Paradises of freedom, contentment and safety are not to be found. In conclusion, the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ was written to show the importance and hopelessness of dreams. Through the characters and what happens to them, it shows how the weaker people rely on dreams and hope to sustain themselves, but in the end, the American Dream is nigh unattainable. Because of the theme and the reality of the novel’s context, hopes and dreams are extremely important to ‘Of Mice and Men. ’ That is Steinbeck’s message.