Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men: Themes and Symbolism

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Steinbeck leads into the fact that a brotherhood exists between Lennie and George. The reason being that in the world they live, most people tend to live a very lonely lifestyle, and it’s not just with Lennie and George either, the men in Of Mice and Men seek to come together in a way that would allow them to be like a brotherhood. They want to live with one another’s best interests in mind, to look out for one another, and to know that there is another individual in their lonely world dedicated to watching out for them.

Given the rough and lonely conditions the men live under, it should come as no surprise that they hold the friendships between each other in such a high regard.

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place… They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to… With us it ain’t like that.

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We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit-in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.” (Pg. 7) – George talking to Lennie about their relationship to one another compared to others.

“A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’… he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so.

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Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ast him if he sees it too… He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk… If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be all right. But I jus’ don’t know.” (Pg. 35) – Crooks is describing to Lennie the exact form of loneliness that was described at the beginning of the book, the kind that George told Lennie that they don’t have because of the fact that they have each other.

Futility of the American Dream

Steinbeck’s characters in Of Mice and Men have all had a dream of their own at one point. Crooks had hoped to hoe a patch of garden on George’s farm and Curley’s wife wanted to be an actress. Before the action of the story begins, situations had robbed most of the characters of these wishes. For example, Crook’s skin color and disabilities prevented him from getting farther in life than what he had achieved due to the ways of the time. What makes all of these dreams American is that the dreamers wished for joy, for the freedom to seek out those dreams. George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm, would have allowed them to sustain themselves and have given them the protection they sought from such a hostile world. Throughout the book however, each character’s dream slowly becomes more and more unattainable, proving that thoughts of their own freedom, contentedness, and safety were to be achievable due to the hands they were given in life.

“I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . . every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.” (Pg. 35) – Crooks is explaining to Lennie that the dream that George has for them is nothing but a dream, he goes on to explain that the dream is nothing more than that, it’s just a nice dream and will only ever be one.

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Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men: Themes and Symbolism. (2022, Jan 24). Retrieved from

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