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‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck Essay

All the characters at one point in the book express their dreams, Curleys wife, Lennie, George, Candy all have dreams.

The novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck is set in the Salinas valley, California. During the collapse of the New York Wall Street market known as the depression years, hoards of migrant worker came to California from parts of America in search of work. The ranch itself is a microcosm of the society and lifestyle of migrant workers black and white in that time, the writer includes life of the black people and attitudes towards them we gain insight of life for black people in America the time. The same applies to Curleys wife, how women where seen and treated at that time, also the fact that she is referred to as ‘Curleys wife’ shows her to be a possession and object in the minds of men.

The main characters who are George and Lennie who’s true relationship is explained towards the middle of the book, are themselves migrant workers, however unlike most who have nothing to look forward too in life or anyone in their lives, George and Lennie have each other. Equally important, however, is the extent to which George relies on Lennie for companionship in the generally unfriendly and lonely environment of the migrant labourer. Although we know Lennie because of his mental immaturity is totally reliant upon George for survival it is an unlikely relationship between two friends.

Lennie and Georges dream, is their hope their light at the end of the tunnel so to speak, it is what makes them continue to carry on hoping to reach their goal together. It reassures Lennie from time to time it makes him happy and comfortable wherever he is and we see this at the start of the novel by the novel by the lake.

As the story progresses we find out about other characters like Candy who offers to join George and Lennie in their dream of having a place of their own, living of the land and Lennie tending the rabbits, he offers to help pay for the house with the money he has, it now becomes a possibility at least in their minds.

Crooks who is openly referred to as ‘nigger’ which exemplifies the casual racism directed towards him by the others, they do not set out to deliberately insult him but the use of the term ‘nigger’ signals to us that black men like Crooks were constantly degraded both verbally and physically by whites.

Crooks too, experiences the emotional bleakness of the majority of the characters drawn by Steinbeck in this story, as shown in his jealousy of George and Lennies friendship and his desire to join in on the dream of part owning the ranch.

His loneliness and jealousy are shown when he says ‘s’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ’cause you was black how’d you like that?’

Curley’s wife is the character who everyone wants to avoid because they all believe she is trouble for them. Her story is told at the end when she is with Lennie, she tells him how she is lonely and doesn’t like Curley and how she has never been loved not even by her own mother who she didn’t trust and married Curley to get away from her. She talks about her dreams in ‘pictures’ how she could still do that, she is shown to want affection and comfort and love which all the ranch workers who are lonely really want.

When Lennie kills Curleys wife all their dreams are shattered, the writer makes it seem inevitable, leading up to it by hints to nature and the incident at weed, George seemed to know that it was going to happen but he still had hope. ‘Was their ever a point in trying’ is the idea that is put across by the writer, knowing about Lennie’s immaturity and strength, should George have even looked after him when it was doomed from the start. He got the characters hopes up to lead the reader to thinking that there was a minor chance that it would come true, but then contradicting himself by showing Lennie’s insecurities and George who warned Lennie to stay away from Curleys wife also again the weed incident and right at the end the water snake and the heron return as they did at the beginning but this time the snake is killed another hint to the future events.

Overall Steinbeck shows us an unlikely friendship that seemed that it would never last, how long would have George have been able to look after Lennie? The writer use of other characters involvement in the story made it for a second possible. However the reader new all along what his actual intensions where to end the story ‘was it really pointless or not’.


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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