Each and every one of us has a dream and we all encounter conflicts that stand in the way of our ability to achieve it. Some people can reach their dreams, but many find themselves unable to free themselves from the personal, social and economic chains that bind them. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Lennie and George had a dream of owning a farm. These characters embarked on a journey to achieve their version of the American dream. “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—Nuts!” Along the way, their personal, social and economic limitations put insurmountable hardships in their path.
Throughout the story, each of the characters experience personal conflicts as they struggle with reality as it tears apart their hopes and ambitions. The masculine ideal was important to these men and where they found themselves lacking, they found the need to defend themselves by fighting. Slim, the jerkline skinner possessed the masculinity that the others respected, and the others looked up to him as a result. “When he finished combing his hair he moved into the room, and he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch… There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke. His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love.” Curly, the ranch owner’s son, on the other hand, was focused on compensating for his small size by picking on others weaker than himself. “The swamper considered… "Well . . . tell you what. Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad at ‘em because he ain’t a big guy. You