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How does Steinbeck Present the American Dream in “Of Mice And Men”

The American Dream is the term used for all American people’s dreams, particularly during The Great Depression. It could be argued that all the characters in the novel share this dream. The American Dream was a dream that nearly everyone had throughout the twentieth century. It was hope for a better life, and people believed strongly that it would come true. The main characters in ‘Of Mice & Men’ have a dream to get a plot of land and live on it and become self-sufficient. Unfortunately, the American Dream was not an achievable goal for many people. Steinbeck shows this failure through the characters of Lennie & George.

We first hear about The American Dream when Lennie and George are sitting by the river at the beginning of the book. Their dream was one of independence. Workers like Lennie and George had no family, no home, and very little control over their lives. They had to do what the boss told them, and they had little to show for it. They only own what they can carry. Therefore, this idea of having such power over their lives is a strong motivation. The dream was hope that every rancher had an opportunity for a better life. Lennie and George, the two main characters, had such a dream, “Someday we’re gonna get a little place and a couple of acres”.

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The idea was to get a piece of land, grow crops and have an improved life there. They also new exactly what they were aiming for and what they wanted. Because of the World Depression at the time, this dream seemed non-realistic, as no one had any money and people were struggling to get jobs. Nevertheless, they all thought the dream would provide them with a better life, more money and a sense of belonging. The dream gave them a feeling of happiness and hope. The dream was also used as a source of comfort, Lennie would craftily use the dream to comfort George when he was angered, and George would bribe Lennie with the dream ‘But you ain’t gonna get into no trouble, because if you do, I won’t let you tend the rabbits.’

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Later on, in the story, Candy joins in with the dream; this makes it seem more realistic instead of just fooling themselves. This gives candy freedom and hopes because, without a job, he would have no future. Apart from that, he has the same reasons as George and Lennie to want a ranch (hope, success, happiness etc.). Curly’s wife also tells us about her dream in the book. Her dream is different from the ranch workers’; he dream is a typical woman’s dream to become famous in the movies. This was really all the women could do at the time; she hoped for glamour and attention to improve her status and have some independence.

The reason for wanting the dream seems the same for everyone in the book, even though they are different ‘types’ of people. We know that the dream is not realistic because crooks tell us, and we believe crooks because he’s intelligent. We know this because, in the description of his room, it is said that he has books on his shelves. Crooks also tells us about his dream in the story, and it is practically identical to the dreams of the other. When Whit brings in the pulp magazine with the letter written by Bill Tenner, the men are all very impressed. They are not certain that Bill wrote the letter, but Whit is convinced he did and tries to convince the others.

In the transient life of these workers, it is rare to leave any permanent mark on the world. In this letter, Bill Tenner has achieved some of the immortality the other men cannot imagine for themselves. This upsets the workers a bit and makes them long for their dreams to come true even more. After the story, everyone’s dreams have been shattered. The dream is ported as a brutal struggle. And in impossible goal to achieve, this is shown in all characters but most in Lennie and George.

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How does Steinbeck Present the American Dream in "Of Mice And Men". (2021, Sep 12). Retrieved May 20, 2022, from