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During the early 19th century America went through something remembered as the ‘Great Depression. ’ It struck millions of people who became victims of ageism, racism, prejudice, isolation, poverty and unemployment. Where some lost hope, some were motivated by their ambitions known as the ‘American Dream. ’ In this essay I will be looking at how the ‘Great Depression’ affected people’s dream and desires. In the novel of Mice and Men, I will analyse the major characters of the novel ‘Of Mice & Men. ’ Steinbeck’s novel presents the feelings, dream and desires in an unbiased manner as it is written in 3rd person.
George is an important character in ‘Of Mice & Men’ suffering from the American depression. For George there is no escape from him being a migrant worker because of the American Depression. Steinbeck introduces George as a relatively small person compared to his huge companion Lennie; however George’s mental abilities are much higher. George is a caring man with a big heart but has developed a hard edge due to the tough times he has to face as a migrant worker which he cannot escape from. George occasionally grumbles of having to take care of Lennie. “I got to get you out.
” George’s frustration and obligation (burden) is highlighted by the pronoun “I” and the verbs “got” and “get. ” However this also shows how George has to take responsibility of Lennie but also stands up for him, contrary to the very close friendship amongst George and Lennie. Steinbeck displays George’s desire in this way to get across the reader to feel George’s hindrance but to feel sympathy for George as well. Another George’s desire’s was to be independent (even though Lennie was his only and best friend) as he felt that Lennie stopped him from living a comfortable life which he desires in the first place.
“If I was alone, I could love so easy. ” Steinbeck’s use of this is rather ironic, as Steinbeck is indicating, George is prophetic and foreshadows George loosing Lennie, as this becomes a reality at the end of the novel. However Steinbeck portrays in this manner so that Lennie is not a prevention in order for George to achieve his desire of being independent. Additionally George and Lennie travelling together but being friends was very unusual because during the “American depression ” people travelled alone in order to find work as there would be less hassle.
Despite the disgruntling, Steinbeck clearly denotes George enjoys Lennie’s company, which George is quick to protect him which shows the companionship, as George shares his aspirations with Lennie. “With us it ain’t like that, we’ve got a future. ” The pronouns “us” and “we” indicate the unity and comradeship between George and Lennie, this suggests that George aspires to share his dream because he tries to distance himself from isolation which the other migrant workers suffer from and to avoid a miserable, wasteful meaningless life.
The noun “future” shows George is enthusiastic about his future in-relation to Crooks who is forlorn. It also suggests that George believes that he and Lennie will achieve their dream because the term ‘future’ illustrates he is looking beyond their present situation on the ranch, which he sees their dreams as a success. Steinbeck presents the character in this way, so the reader recognizes the dreams and desires that migrant workers wanted to accomplish; In order to escape from their dismal and hopeless lives.
In-addition George and Lennie being comrades was very rare, but the most infrequent thing was George helping Lennie which was also uncommon at the time of the “American Depression “, as nobody would help another person. In-addition George desires to share his dream with Lennie, in-order to keep Lennie happy and to keep him as a companion. “I could build a smoke house like the one grand ’pa had. ” This phrase insinuates George wants his future to reflect his ideal childhood memories.
The verb “could” which suggests the potential to succeed which consolidates the heavenly idea of the dream in contrast with the hopeless and depressing lives of others. At the end of the novel George kills Lennie for the sake of Lennie to protect him from an awful tragedy. But in this context it is a way of renunciation of George’s own contentment which George wanted to share his own dream with Lennie. Steinbeck interprets George’s dreams in this way to the reader to shows how much one desires in order to accomplish his dream, in order to live a life of happiness but also to achieve the “American Dream”.
Steinbeck explores the theme of destiny which creates a picture in the reader’s mind, of how people had to face the severe realities in order to achieve the “American Dream” at that time. As this is a perfect example to show one’s dreams and desires, but what extents a person would go to in order to do that. Lennie Small is a rather ironic man; he is delineated as an enormous and powerful man but ability wise he is slow, innocent and childlike. With Lennie, Steinbeck mainly follows the theme of innocence within the novel.
Lennie shares the same dream with George but his perspective is different to of that George’s. George wants his own land so he can live with freedom whereas Lennie desires to keep “furry rabbits” and tend them. As Steinbeck portrays Lennie in this way, so the reader feels sympathy for him, as we would say he has a mental disability but this would have not been recognised at the time of the “American Depression” as people would have considered Lennie as strange. In-addition the dream for Lennie petting “furry rabbits” on his own farm will provide contentment and security for him.
Despite his innocence, Lennie is still capable of great violence. Steinbeck constantly compares Lennie to various animals but comparison to a dog is quite significant. This comparison is apparent, such as Lennie is George’s only friend and the dog is Candy’s only companion. Also Lennie is dependent on George to be his faithful protector like the dog is loyal to Candy and relies on him. Furthermore Lennie’s hands were the reason he kills Curley’s wife, which Steinbeck compares to those of a dogs, calling them “huge paws” and also saying that he “pawed up the hay.