In ‘Of mice and Men’ several characters dream of a different and better life. Why is it not a surprise that the dreams never come true?
‘Of Mice and Men is a novel written by john Steinbeck that features the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people living very simple lives. It features very strong characters each with their own dreams of a different and better life. But of course such dreams only remain dreams because they never do come true.
The title ‘of mice and men’ is taken from a poem by a famous Scottish poet Robert Burns that quotes.
The beat laid schemes o’ mice and men
Gang aft agley (often go wrong)
And leave us nought but grief and pain
For promised joy!
This basically means that it doesn’t matter how much you plan and dream, things very rarely go according to plan, which leaves us longing for promised dreams.
John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902.
This may have been the reason he decided to set the novel ‘Of mice and men’ in the Salinas valleys. It was hard to live in good conditions around the time the book was set (1930-1940) because of the Wall Street crash and the great Depression that followed. It was extremely hard to get a job and if you did get a job, it would be for minimal pay.
During the 1930’s there was very bad unemployment, which meant thousands of people never had a job in the USA, so agencies (like the one that Lennie and George got their work cards from, ‘Murray and Ready’s) were set up to end farm workers to where they were needed. Despite these conditions many people believed in the American dream. The theory of the American dream was taken from the 17th centaury and basically mans that in America, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from anybody can make it big and be satisfied with what they have achieved. A lot of characters in the novel also had dreams of making it big and owning something good that they have worked hard to accomplish.
Lennie Small and George Milton are the main characters and they both had similar dreams although they were very different people in more ways then one. We first get a description of their dream in chapter 1 when George and Lennie were at their campsite about to eat their supper. The conversation about the dream started off when Lennie said to George ” tell me- like you done before about the rabbits.” The dream was basically that they wanted their own land where nobody can boss them around and tell them what to do. They also wanted to raise animals such as pig’s cows and chickens ” an live of the fatta da lan”. From this dream the to characters Lennie and George both wanted different things. George wanted a place of his own and independence he also wanted security for Lennie but the main thing he wanted is a ranch like the one he lived on as a child. On the other hand the only thing Lennie wants from the dream is to “tend the rabbits”.
At this point of the novel the dream that Lennie and George had was still just a fantasy not reality. This is because George and Lennie did not have much money, like many people who lived around the time of the great Depression. People found it hard to get jobs let alone make a lot of money and they had just run away from another ranch in Weed because of Lennie’s behaviour, so deep down George knew that it was virtually impossible for their dreams to become a reality, until…
Candy is an ageing, disabled ranch hand that has been on the ranch for a, long time and when he hears Lennie talking to George about the dream he realises that that was his golden ticket out of the ranch. Candy wants to leave the ranch because he feels that he has no future in the ranch he fears that he might be sacked in the near future because he cannot do his job as good as an able bodied person. Candy realises he has enough money to offer Lennie and George so he could be part of the dream, Lennie and George accepts Candy’s offer and then the dream becomes a reality because George knows a real place they could get.
Crooks is a black ranch hand that is discriminated because of his colour. Crooks first gets to know about the dream when Lennie walks into his room, whilst looking for some companionship. When Lennie tells him the dream, at first he did not believe it and he thought it would never happen. But then candy walks into the room and confirms what Lennie was saying at this point candy starts to believe the ream and he offers to join them. Then Curleys’ wife walks in and has an argument with the three men and threatens crooks by saying se could heave him hung, it is after Curleys wife leaves the bunkhouse that crooks decides to withdraw his offer and end his dream.
Curley’s wife dream is different from all the other means dreams. When she was younger, a man said that he was a film producer and that when he went he would come back for her and she would be in the movie. She waited for long for the man to send for her but he never did, she thought it her mother hid the letters but I think the man was not a real director; he was just flirting with her. Curley’s wife manages to end all of the dreams she firstly ends crooks dream by telling him that she could get him hung, then she ends everyone else’s dream when she dies because Lennie killed her and George then knows their dreams are over and her dream is over because she dies.