Explore Some of the Ways Steinbeck Presents Dreams in of Mice and Men

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This is a novel of defeated hope and the harsh reality of the American Dream. George and Lennie are poor homeless migrant workers, doomed to a life of wandering and toil in which they are never able to reap the fruits of their labor. Their desires may not seem so unfamiliar to any other American: a place of their own, the opportunity to work for themselves and harvest what they sew with no one to take anything from them or give them orders. George and Lennie desperately cling to the notion that they are different from other workers who drift from ranch to ranch because, unlike the others, they have a future and each other. But characters like Crooks and Curley's wife serve as reminders that George and Lennie are no different from anyone who wants something of his or her own.

Lennie and George’s dream is presented by Steinbeck in order to convey their relationship: “George. Tell me. Please, George. Like you done before”
This dream cannot exist without friendship. This is most demonstrable in the relationship between George and Lennie. Without the other, neither character would be able to maintain the dream. Lennie is constantly asking George to “tell about how it’s gonna be”. The constant repetition of the way things will be is what keeps the dream alive in Lennie. However, George needs Lennie just as much as Lennie needs him, which is apparent at the end of the novel. When George kills Lennie, he also kills the friendship, which results in the death of the dream within himself. Friendship is an underlying factor in the dreams of others as well. Candy, Crooks befriend George and Lennie when they learn of the possibility of owning land. They share the same dream as the two new workers, a dream that would have seemed impossible before the friendship began. Lennie’s dream is introduced at the beginning of the novella through Steinbeck’s description of nature. During the novel's opening and closing chapters, Steinbeck describes the activity of the natural world. These passages are rich and interpretable in many directions. Steinbeck writes that the rabbits happily "sit on the sand," and are then disturbed by the arrival of George and Lennie - they "hurry noiselessly for cover". Not until later does this little detail take on a richer significance - rabbits, we learn, represent for Lennie (and George, to a lesser extent) the dream of obtaining a farm of their own and living "off the fatta the lan'". The scattering of the rabbits at the beginning suggests already that this dream will prove elusive. Because Lennie thinks in concrete terms of his own pleasure, he equates the tending of rabbits - whose soft fur he wishes to pet - with the attainment of utter happiness. Thus he has developed a shorthand for referring to the plan George and he share to start a farm of their own - "I remember about the rabbits”. Lennie takes deep pride in the notion that he would be entrusted to raise the rabbits, to protect them, to feed them out of their alfalfa patch. He places the entirety of his future happiness on this one image of caring for rabbits. This dream of the rabbits becomes literally a dream at the end of the novel, when Lennie hallucinates a giant rabbit who tells him that he will never be allowed to tend rabbits. This highlights the extent to which Lennie bases his entire life around the goal of tending rabbits. Steinbeck presents Candy’s dream as his last hope after an unfulfilling life not achieving anything. His pessimistic language emphasises how he will eventually become useless: “When they can me here I wisht somebody’d shoot me... I can’t get no more jobs” Candy realizes that his fate is to be put on the roadside as soon as he’s no longer useful; on the ranch, he won’t be treated any differently than his dog. Worse than the dog parallel, though, is that Candy, unlike his dog, is emotionally broken by this whole affair. He can’t bring himself to shoot his pet himself, and we suspect this is going to be the same fear and...
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