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Unformatted text preview: Themes in ‘Of Mice and Men’
-The American Dream The American Dream: Everyone has a
dream to strive for. The poor ranch hands
wish to be their own bosses, and actually
have stability in their lives.
have What is the American Dream
The term was first used by James Truslow Adams in
his book The Epic of America which was written in
1931. He states:
"The American Dream is "that dream of a land in
which life should be better and richer and fuller for
everyone, with opportunity for each according to
ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor
cars and high wages, but a dream of social order in
which each man and each woman shall be able to
achieve the fullest stature of which they are
capable of, and be recognized by others for what
they are, regardless of the circumstances of birth or
position." Is the American dream possible in the
historical context of the novel?
historical "'Well,' said George, 'we'll have a big
vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and
chickens. And when it rains in the winter,
we'll just say the hell with goin' to work,
and we'll build up a fire in the stove and
set around it an' listen to the rain comin'
down on the roof...'"
down Their perfect world is one of
independence. Workers like Lennie and
George have no family, no home, and
very little control over their lives. They
have to do what the boss tells them and
they have little to show for it. They only
own what they can carry. Therefore, this
idea of having such power over their lives
is a strong motivation.
is George and Lennie have a dream, even before
they arrive at their new job on the ranch, to
make enough money to live "off the fat of the
land" and be their own bosses. Lennie will be
permitted, then, to tend the rabbits. Candy, upon hearing about the dream, wanted
to join them so that he would not be left alone.
to Crooks, the Negro outcast, wanted to join them
so that he wouldn't be alone. Dreams 2
When Whit brings in the pulp magazine with the
letter written by Bill Tenner, the men are all very
impressed. They are not certain that Bill wrote the
letter, but Whit is convinced he did, and tries to
convince the others.
In the transient life of these workers, it is rare to leave
any kind of permanent mark on the world. In this
letter Bill Tenner has achieved some of the
immortality the other men cannot imagine for
themselves. Dreams 3
Dreams When George goes into a full description of the dream farm,
its Eden-like qualities become even more apparent. All the
food they want will be right there, with minimal effort. As
"We could live offa the fatta the lan'." Chapter 3, pg. 57.
Chapter When George talks about their farm, he twice describes it in
terms of things he loved in childhood: "I could build a smoke
house like the one gran'pa had..." Chapter 3, pg. 57.
Chapter George yearns for his future to reflect the beauty of his
childhood. "An' we'd keep a few pigeons to go flyin' around
the win'mill like they done when I was a kid."
the Dreams 4
The ideal world presented by Crooks also
reflects childhood. His father had a chicken
ranch full of white chickens, a berry patch, and
alfalfa. He and his brothers would sit and
watch the chickens.
Companionship and plentiful food are both
parts of Crooks' dream.
parts Dreams 5
Curley's wife has a dream that although different in
detail from the other's dreams, is still very similar in
its general desires.
She wants companionship so much that she will try to
talk to people who don't want to talk to her, like all
the men on the ranch.
Unsatisfied by her surly husband, she constantly lurks
around the barn, trying to engage the workers in
conversation. The second part of her dream parallels the
men's desire for their own land. She wanted to
be an actress in Hollywood. She imagines how
great it would be to stay in nice hotels, own
lots of beautiful clothes, and have people want
to take her photograph.
Both attention and financial security would
have been hers. Like the men she desires
friendship, and also material comforts, though
the specifics of her dream differ from theirs.
the Dreams 6
When George tells Lennie to look across the
river and imagine their farm, he lets Lennie die
with the hope that they will attain their dream,
and attain it soon.
George, who must kill Lennie, is not allowed
such comfort. He must go on living knowing
the failure of their dream, as well as deal with
the guilt of having killed his best friend.
the The Futility of the American Dream
(*In the context of the novel!!)
George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm, which
would enable them to sustain themselves, and, most
important, offer them protection from an inhospitable
world, represents a prototypically American ideal.
Their journey, which awakens George to the
impossibility of this dream, sadly proves that the
bitter Crooks is right: such paradises of freedom,
contentment, and safety are not to be found in this*
world. Is the American dream possible in the
historical context of the novel?
Dreams Dreams are one of the ways in which the characters combat the loneliness
and hopelessness of their existence.
The most obvious example is the dream farm, a dream shared at first only
by George and Lennie, but which later spreads to include Candy and
Crooks reveals that it is the favourite dream of the itinerant ranch hands:
'Seems like ever' guy got land in his head.'
It is a powerful dream, however, and even the cynical Crooks falls under
its spell for a short time.
To Lennie, the dream is an antidote to disappointment and loneliness, and
he often asks George to recite the description of the farm to him.
Curley's wife is another who has dreams, her fantasies of a part in the
movies and a life of luxury. Part of her dissatisfaction with her life is that it
can never measure up to her dreams.
Significantly, none of the characters ever achieve their dreams. This powerpoint was kindly donated to
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