Essay about Dreams in Of Mice and Men

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Of Mice and Men Dreams

Of Mice and Men is set in Salinas, California in the 1930s Great Depression. Life was hard and men could be cruel. Hope might be the only escape from hard reality. This links to the American Dream – represented in George and Lennie’s dream of working hard and getting their own land and farm, and control over their own lives. But it was harder than ever to achieve due to the tough economic conditions of the Depression. After Lennie’s death, it might be possible for George to realise his dream, but the emptiness at the end of the novel shows that financial success is nothing when you are lonely. So the dream is not just something to own, or possess, but also something to share. ‘Compassion and love’, to Steinbeck –
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Still, George and Lennie separate themselves from the others by using the third person to describe farm hands as, ‘the loneliest guys in the world.’ The superlative ‘loneliest’ and hyperbole ‘in the world’ exaggerates the harshness of the world of the Depression as shown in the novel.

Sometimes it seems that George ‘owns’ the dream – as he is the one who tells it to Lennie, like a child’s bedtime story, prayer or mantra, in keeping with his role as ‘parent/protector’ to his child-like companion. This is emphasised by the simple, mantra-like structure, where Lennie keeps filling in the gaps if George hesitates, and repeating short phrases after him as if he knows it by heart, even though – as George says frustratedly, Lennie always ‘forgets’ everything else. It is not always certain if George believes the dream is possible or if he is saying it to keep Lennie quiet. Sometimes, George seems sceptical, saying they will have ‘every colour rabbits’ including ‘red and blue’. He is patronising to Lennie, saying ‘good boy’, keeping him safe from his own stupidity. In these scenes the dream seems more of a spell or placebo to keep the main characters safe than something that is really possible.
Other characters are very cynical about the dream. The reader is made to question how realistic these dreams are. Curley’s wife dreams of when she threw

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