Hopes and dreams are important in ‘Of Mice and Men’. In a world where it is impossible to have a friend, to talk to and to listen to, the hope of a dream coming true is the only thing that can keep the workers going during the harsh times of the 1930’s. Throughout the novel, the workers all live in an unrealistic world of an impossible dream. You read about Lennie, the gentle giant, who believes in the dream so much that he influences some of the other characters to believe in it as well. Crooks and Candy, who are both getting old and very lonely, both wish to escape to this magical fairyland where everything is perfect. It is this ideal world that drives George and Lennie to stick together, to achieve their goal. They both came very close but in the end, George had to face reality that it just wasn’t going to come true and had to end it by saving Lennie from a very cruel fate. Although the dream did not come true, it is the hope of the dream which motivates all the characters in the novel.
Friendship has a very strong influence in the novel. In the novel friendship isn’t valued by the other characters. Slim ‘the Prince of the ranch’ is the only one who recognises the powerfulness and fragility of such a priceless bond. Throughout the novel you know George holds desperately to the bond he has with Lennie, when he says ‘You get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out.’ Feeling age old guilt and the fear of being alone, George jumps to Lennie’s rescue every time Lennie is challenged, finding a way for them to stay together. Steinbeck shows how loneliness twists a person’s mind. Crooks, who is black and unwelcome, preys on Lennie who is weaker than him by suggesting ‘Suppose George ain’t comin’ back?’ It shows how the weak prey on the even weaker. It shows how mankind wants to feel superior by making themselves feel good.
The impossible ‘American Dream’ is the feature of hope in the book. It is the dream of flawless happiness. To have land, a wife, being your own boss and a roof over your head. More importantly underneath the desire to have everything, is the yearning for company. In the world the workers lived in, to have a piece of land with a house gives you the ability to make friends and say to them: ‘Why don’t you spen’ the night? (pg58)’. The American Dream’ that George and Lennie was so close to achieving came to an abrupt end when George had to shoot Lennie. George realized that he couldn’t keep on protecting Lennie forever however much he wanted too, it shows how George realizes that the dream will never come true but keeps on protecting Lennie because he wanted the dream to become a reality. Thus, although it is impossible the American Dream is a motivation to keep on living in the harsh times.
The Great Depression of the 1930’s was harsh. America was a land of new beginnings. However, that is not the case. Many people thought the land was undiscovered and came to claim a bit of it for themselves. When they got to America not only was there no land for them, but also there was not enough food for anyone. California, where the place is set, was not the prosperous place it is today in the 21st century. During the Great Depression, California was called ‘The Dust Bowl’, at that time. California had hit a drought and the land was so dry it wasn’t producing many crops, hence the name. With not much food and no land to take the Great Depression did have a very strong impact of the peoples lively hoods. Although with so much history, this novel is not a historical novel, but a highly personal response to the powerlessness of the workers.
In conclusion, throughout the novel, Steinbeck highlights the importance of friendship, hopes and dreams. He takes into account all the history to make the novel seem almost real. He expresses the need for hope and a dream but stresses that we should not immerse ourselves in it, but see reality and live in the present and not in the future as life is too short. It is through these hopes and dreams that the novel reflects us and allows us to make a connection with the characters.