Look at George and Lennie’s dream. Do you think that the dream had any chance of coming true? What made it likely that the dream would fail?
From the very beginning ‘Of Mice and Men’, George and Lennie have their hopes set on ‘the dream’. They dream about getting a ranch together in the country. Lennie gets extremely fascinated and excited, as soon as animals are mentioned. He has learnt his trigger speech, word-for-word. He talks about all of the animals he will care for, and how he will feed them:
“…a place for alfalfa, an’ that alfalfa is for the rabbits, an’ I take the sack and get it all fulla alfalfa and then I take it to the rabbits”.
Lennie is so enthralled, and has thought and talked about the dream so much, that his speech was perfect, and was automatic as soon as he heard any mention of a dream or the animals, especially rabbits.
The dream would likely fail, as the story received the title from an earlier poem by Robert Burns, “The Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men”.
This title portrays the idea, that no matter how planned an idea or a dream is, the outcome, sometimes tragic or not what we expect, has already been decided.
John Steinbeck wrote the story in 1937. The story is centred in a place called Salinas. We know this, since the Salinas River is mentioned in the first line of the story.
George Milton, described as a “smart little guy” by Slim, later demonstrates that intelligence without other values is worth nothing. Steinbeck made George in this way, to portray the idea that in almost all walks of life, there will always be natural leaders, and that people emerging with authority, will be an imminent action.
Lennie is described as ”jes’ like a kid”. Lennie may be child-minded, but is clearly observed as being “so strong”. He is simple-minded, and is unable to control his own body and strength. This explains why he is unable to understand why the animals he possesses, all die. His strength overpowers their fragility.
There is a perfect description of the two men:
“Both men were dressed in denim trousers, and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders”.
George and Lennie are identically dressed. This portrays the ‘id’ and the ‘ego’ theme behind the novel. Although they are a perfect carbon copy of each other, stronger impact is created as we see the personality differences between the two, become more prominent as the story progresses. Lennie contains the ‘id’, also known as the desire, to do what he wants to do. George is different, as he contains the ‘id’ and ‘ego’ personality. He has the knowledge, the ego, to know whether his id is right or wrong.
At the start of the novel, the two men are in a place called Weed. They are forced to leave there, when they are being hunted down. This is because Lennie had clutched the dress of a girl, and would cease to let go. The girl shouted rape, and so if they were to live, they must leave, and seek life in another location.
Lennie was more enthralled and fascinated at listening to George tell him about the dream, and what they would own and how they would do things, rather than actually thinking about all of the things happening in reality. He knew what the dream was exactly, but he was more excited, when George told him:
“Why’n’t you do it yourself. You know all of it. / No … you tell it. It ain’t the same if I tell it. Go on … George. How I get to tend the rabbits”.
The story in the novel is based around the ‘American Dream’. That is the dream in which every man could strive for in the great country. The dream of all the ranch-hands was stability and eventually a place of their own. This place offered a hand of friendship and companionship, that Candy and Crooks along with George and Lennie all craved. The dream offered security, and equality, as well as an end to social injustice. This for some, was impossible to attain.
For George and Lennie, the dream could be seen as ‘wishful thinking’. The dream is simply wanting to re-create happier times as a child, when George said they would have pigeons:
“An’ we’d keep a few pigeons to go flyin’ around the win’mill like they done when I was a kid”. He wants to keep the good memories from his childhood alive, by re-enacting them.
They also dream of paradise, with lots of different foods. They will either eat the animals they raise, or will hunt for their food:
“…an’ when we kill a pig we can smoke the bacon and the hams, and make sausage an’ all like that. An’ when the salmon run up river we could catch a hundred of them. We could have them for breakfast”.
They also thought about the authority and the power that they would now have, instead of having to confirm to the power of others:
“If we don’t like a guy we can say: ‘Get the hell out,’ and by God he’s got to do it”.
For once in their lives, they would be able to appreciate the needs of human beings. They would have their own home, and friends could stay:
“An’ if a fren’ come along, why we’d have an extra bunk, an’ we’d say ‘Why don’t you spen’ the night,’ an’ by God he would”.
Lennie talks about the dream in front of Candy, and Candy becomes very interested. Candy is old, and lonely. He is lonely as his dog, which suffered from rheumatism and old age was laid to rest, and Candy wishes the same of him, as he feels exactly the same, as his dog must have felt.
He lost his hand on the ranch, and so he was given the job of swamping. Candy was given two hundred and fifty dollars for his injury, and the money may actually bring George and Lennie’s dream as close to reality as it has been so far.
“An’ they give me two hundred an’ fifty dollars ’cause I los’ my hand. An’ I got fifty more saved up right in the bank, right now”.
Candy is prepared to offer up the money, but he makes it perfectly clear that he wouldn’t ‘own’ the ranch, just because he had the highest stake. He is quite prepared to live away from that ranch, he has spent so long at.