How Does Steinbeck Present the Theme of Dreaming in of Mice and Men?

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At the time the novella was written, America was suffering in poverty, in what is known as The Great Depression. After Wall Street Crash, millions of American's lost their savings and were plummeted into debt. At one time, one third of Americans were unemployed, and would have been looking for work on a ranch just as George and Lennie, the main characters in Of Mice and Men, were doing. Steinbeck explores the prominent theme of dreaming through different characters in the novella.

George and Lennie both share a dream of having a little farm of their own and living off the 'fatta the lan'. For George, the dream future is probably more of a fantasy to make life bearable than a real plan. However, for Lennie this dream is very realistic and knows the story off by heart. It is their method of escaping the lonely inevitability of life at that period of time.

Candy, a lonely, crippled ranch worker is compelled by George and Lennie's dream on hearing of the tale, and at this point in the novel, Candy's money offering changes their what seemed impossible dream to within their grasp as 'they fell into silence. They looked at one another, amazed. This thing they had never really believed in was coming true.'

Curley's wife is another character subjected to the theme of dreaming. As a woman who is extremely discontented with her marriage and lifestyle she clings to her dream of the better life she imagines she might have had and talks of her dreams and missed opportunities to escape and work in the movie industry. She tells Lennie 'I met a guy' who said 'he was gonna put me in the movies'. However, he dream also reveals an innocence to her character as she talks of the easy fame she could have achieved: 'Because this guy says I was a natural.' Innocently not questioning whether the guy was genuine.

The title of the novel comes from a poem by Robert Burns 'To a mouse'. One of the verses makes the point that men's dreams are as fragile and easily destroyed as a...