Exploration of the theme of the American Dream In a country where liberty, freedom and the land of opportunity is a pivotal part of American society the American dream is born. The American dream is fundamentally the notation that no matter your race, religion, sex or social class if you work hard in America you will achieve materialistic wealth. Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men sets in the 1930’s, the time of the great depression and depicts the flaws of the American Dream. Some of the themes in the novel include friendship, death, jealousy and loneliness.
The exploration of this essay shall consist of me focussing on the theme of the American Dream by exploring the characters, George and Lennie, Candy and Crooks. Steinbeck also conveys the theme of the American Dream through the character of Candy- as the name implies Candy is a sweet character, the quote, ‘yeah, nice fella too’ demonstrates this as Candy is talking fairly about Crooks who is black and looked down upon in society of that time. Candy is an old character, ‘the old man put the yellow can in his pocket…
‘ and this is illustrated by Steinbeck as one of the flaws of the American Dream which stops them achieve the A. D. and because everyone shall someday become old Steinbeck is implying that sometimes the American Dream is never achievable. Candy owns a dog which he has known for most of his life, ‘That’s a hell of an old dog; Yeah I had ‘im since he was a pup… ‘ This dog of his is a very close possession and friend and it is implied that Candy has realised that he shall never achieve his American Dream but his dog is the closest he shall get to it so it is a part of his American Dream.
However Candy’s dog was shot by Carlson due to it being old and smelly, ‘I don’t know anything that stinks so bad as an old dog… he’s got no teeth… why’n’t you shoot him Candy? ‘ The death of Candy’s dog symbolises the death of Candy’s Amercian Dream, however in more depth, the death of his dog illustrates that anyone (animal or human) who is old or smells or has no teeth (basically out of the ‘norm’) is not accepted into society and shall not be accepted and death could be a possible out come.
Although Candy;s dog had no use to the people around and society, to Candy he meant a lot and the death of his meant a death of part of candy himself. Similarly, Lennie like the dog was not accepted in society due to the deed he had committed and due to his disability however, he meant something to George and they too like Candy an his dog were loyal friends but it was because of society that cause the death of both the dog and Lennie which cause the death of their American Dream. Through the character of Curley, Steinbeck shows the Amercian Dream in a different light.
He illustrates that the American Dream is achievable through Curley as he has his own ranch, the trophy wife, the money and power. However, Steinbeck is also showing that only a few people achieve the American Dream as only one of the Characters achieves the American Dream out of 6. Although Curley has achieved the American Dream, Steinbeck clearly shows through the nature of Curley that those who are able and do achieve the American Dream are not always nice people, in fact from Curleys character, the audience feels that they are in fact horrible people.
The way in which Curley treats other people makes him perceived as a very horrible person. The way in which Curley’s wife describes him, ‘I don’ like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella’ shows how little liked he is. Also, the way in which Curley’s wife is used as a possession of his shows the greed of power that Curley has. Also the way that Curley is perceived by George shows already within only a day of knowing Curley he is not liked as George refers to Curley as a ‘son of a bitch’ vAlso, the way in which Curley treats Lennie is appalling,’ “What the hell you laughin’ at?
‘Lennie looked blankly at him. “Huh? ” Then Curley’s rage exploded. “Come on, ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me. I’ll show ya who’s yella. ‘ This shows the arrogance of Curley. The theme of the American Dream is finely woven through the entire novel and without a doubt this has been done very effectively . Steinbeck clearly conveys his message about the American Dream in much detail and has done in a very meaning full way.