Of Mice and Men by John Steinback is a story about George and Lennie, two companions who share the same dream of owning their own land and being their own boss. They move from place to place looking for work but the “fetishes” of Lennie gets them into trouble which hinders their dream for being fulfilled. In the end, reality sinks in and George accepts their fate. Almost all of the characters in the story have dreams of their own but somehow fate conspires against them that prevent their dreams for becoming a reality.
Of Mice and Men centers on dreams of the common man as much as it focuses on loneliness and human companionship. The focus on dreams however, is leaned towards a more realistic approach than idealistic. Steinback portrays dreams realistically by showing the obstacles that hinder dreams. Dreams is what drive people, or at least most of us, it gives us a sense of purpose, without them, existence seems unnecessary.
The most notable dream in the story is the dream of George and Lennie having a farm of their own.
Lennie always asks George to retell him their dreams because part of it involves Lennie petting rabbits, which is Lennie’s fetish (touching soft things), and also because Lennie has a short memory. Ironically, it is their dream that enslaves them to work. The dream of owning a farm is the lifelong dream of George and Lennie because they are tired of moving from place to place constantly trying to find work, which barely support them– owning a farm means, at least for George, being self-reliant, a sense of security and just simply being somebody and not just mere drifters.
Lennie on the other hand is just in it for the rabbits but he clearly values the companionship that their dreams forge. This is shown throughout the story when Lennie gets upset by the thoughts of George getting angry at him Candy, the old man with the old sheep dog, partly became part of George and Lennie’s dream; as he offers money that he supposedly have, to contribute to the purchase of the farm. The dream of the farm also gives him a sense of security because he has nowhere else to go to if he is fired from the current farm he is in.
Crooks also partly shared the dream of George and Lennie when Lennie tells him about the dream farm, Crooks offers his service to the farm for free because for him, equality in the farm might bring is enough. Equality is something he longs for outside of the dream farm because he is discriminated for being black. He lives separately from the other workers and is insulted by the wife of Curley. A place they can call their own where they can have some sense of security and pride is what drives these characters’ dreams.
Dreams, by its mere definition, do not mean that everything would be achieved. The characters dream of a different, or rather, a better life but their conditions prevent them from achieving these dreams. George does not have the money to buy the farm and Lennie slows his progress, Lennie is mentally retarded and relies solely on George so he can somehow function in society. Crooks is a black man, and during the setting of the story, that fact alone is enough to stop all hopes for a better life.
Even Curley’s wife had dreams of becoming an actress but he married Curley who does not make her happy. Slim provides contrast with these dreams as he appears to not have any dreams and accepts the reality that he is stuck on working in the farm. Having dreams is fine but the truth is the world is an unforgiving place. The story shows the idealistic dreams of the characters and their struggle to break out of their situation. The characters strive for a better life but remain in the cycle of work, more work, and hopelessness—Dreams does not always lead to a happy ending.
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