Explore the Ways in Which Steinbeck Presents Dreams in His Novella

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One of the many themes in John Steinbeck’s novella “Of Mice and Men” is the dreams that people have. Steinbeck's novella is set around the time of the Great Depression in America. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25% and hundreds of thousands of Americans found themselves homeless, and began congregating in shanty towns that began to appear across the country. This meant many of these citizens were forced into itinerancy. The author chose his own birthplace, The Salinas Valley, to portray this tale of a broken society and the dreams that men chase to survive this misery. All of the characters in the novella have a dream, a dream to get out of itinerancy and own their own land. They all seem to think it will eventually come true apart from Crooks but Steinbeck reminds us throughout the novella that they won’t. The dreams presented in the novella are generally the same. Each character wants to own their ‘own land’ and have the ‘alfalfa’, ‘chickens’ and in Lennie’s case ‘rabbits’. One character wants to be a ‘star’. In each case there are different things stopping the dreams of the characters. Steinbeck gives us an insight into life where all you can do to keep going is to dream of a ‘future’. Initially Steinbeck presents Curley's Wife as person who in this male dominated society, had once had a dream but due to difficult circumstances her dreams were ‘crushed’ resulting in her big dream of being ‘star’ not being achieved. Curley’s wife is the most contradictory character portrayed throughout the whole novella. She is shown as being a ‘sweet’, ‘innocent little girl’ but on the other hand she’s shown as a ‘spiteful’ provocative ‘bitch’. She tells Lennie of her dream, her dream to be a ‘star’. She explains to Lennie how ‘lonely’ she is. She is utterly convinced that she ‘could have’ joined a travelling show at the age of fifteen and become an actress. Another man she met at a ‘dance’...
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