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The Impossibility of the American Dream in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ is about the impossibility of the American dream and how the characters dreams are destroyed throughout the novel. Some of the characters as the novel goes on reveal that they have dreams for the future. Curley’s wife’s dream is to be a famous Hollywood actress. Her dream is ruined by the Hollywood director who promised to contact her about her acting career but never has. Also by her marriage to Curley. Crook’s dream is simply for equality among everybody. During this time a lot of people were racist and discriminated against anyone who was of a different race so racism and the attitudes of others destroy his dream.

Lennie and George’s dream is to own a place in order to work and live in where they can have cows, pigs, rabbits and other animals. ‘Someday we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres and a cow and some pigs and…’ ‘We’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit-hunch and chickens.’ This quote describes their dream about having their own land, living on their own on it and making money from the animals. When Candy hears about this dream, he wants to become part of it by offering some of his money to buy the land and be able to work and live on the land with George and Lennie.

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George, Lennie and candy’s dream is destroyed by Lennie not knowing his own strength. When Lennie is scared he panics and doesn’t know what to do. When Lennie and Curley’s wife are talking in the barn, Curley’s wife tells Lennie to feel how soft her hair is. Lennie touched her hair very roughly. Curley’s wife pulls her head away because she didn’t like it. Because Lennie is confused he grabs her hair and tries to make her stop yelling because this is scaring him. But because Lennie does not know how to control his own strength, he squeezes Curley’s wife too hard and accidentally breaks her neck. He realises he has ‘done a bad thing’ so he then leaves the ranch because Curley wants to kill him for what he did to his wife.

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After a while George finds Lennie and because he cannot get him out of trouble, shoots Lennie. Lennie’s uncontrollable strength and his mental state destroyed his, George and Candy’s dream. Curley’s wife’s dream is to become a famous Hollywood actress. She dreams of fame, fortune and posh clothes – “coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes”. This dream is destroyed by her marriage to Curley because once she is married she is not allowed to pursue an acting career because she has to look after the house. Her dream is also destroyed by a Hollywood director who believed she had the potential to become a film actress.

But when she meets this he promises he would send her a letter about acting in one of his films, but she never gets the letter so she does not become an actress which is her dream. She suspects her mother stole the letter as she believed she was too young – ‘I was only fifteen’. Her marriage to Curley and the Hollywood director who has not mailed her about her acting career destroys her dream. Crooks dream is to be treated equally. Because he is black, he is treated differently then others because of their racist views towards him. Crooks must not go in the bunkhouse so he has to sleep in the harness room. He is also abused by the boss of the ranch if the boss gets angry.

Crooks dreams that he can be treated the same as everyone else, so he does not have to sleep in the harness room instead of the bunkhouse or abused by another man. ‘Ya see the stable buck’s a nigger.’ This quote shows that Crooks is mistreated by the farm boss because he is a black man. The ranch boss thinks he can discriminate against Crooks because he is black. Crooks dream of becoming equal is destroyed by the racist attitudes of others. In conclusion in this novel Priestly describes how ridiculous the American dream is and how hard it is in reality to get exactly what you want as simple things can get in the way and destroy your dreams.

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The Impossibility of the American Dream in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. (2021, Sep 14). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from