by Nikki Jeanne
This is an essay for Of Mice And Men
|Dreams and plans are not the only way to escape. On a rainy day, they give purpose and a reason to hang on. Dreams give goals to achieve, motivation, and a belief that can only be truly understood by those who create it. Dreams are often fantasies that need completion so that the feeling of completion can be felt. This applies to both George and Lennie in the novel. While traveling all over the country to find a job during the Great Depression, they find themselves surviving, because of their dream of one day owning their own ranch. In his novel Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck uses the characters of the story to demonstrate to the audience that dreams, fantasies, and hope are often a way to escape unhappiness, loneliness, and reality in general.
Steinbeck uses dreams to highlight the current situation of the characters in the book in an effort to show that Steinbeck explains it by giving the characters a sense of longing and a purpose in the hard life that they are currently living in. George and Lennie are the perfect example. Without George and Lennie's dreams as the book's focus, the story would not have had the deep meaning that the book possesses. The plot revolves around these two characters, and slowly, throughout the book, their dreams slowly affect the other characters of the book. Lennie is a constant reminder of the dream that both he and George want so badly to achieve. George and Lennie long for the day when they finally own their own ranch with one reason being an innocent one and the other a way to have freedom from burdens in life. This gives George and Lennie a purpose to strive. "We could live offa the fatta the lan" (Steinbeck 57). Lennie describes the ranch as a haven, or paradise which is the opposite of the world that they currently reside in. Lennie wants a place where he can tend the soft furry animals. In other words, a place where one can be himself. George on the other hand sees the dream as a way to be free from anyone else's control. "We'll have a big vegetable patch and rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we'll just say hell with goin' to work" (14-15). George dreams of becoming self-reliant, independent, or living the American Dream. The novel had a setting around the Great Depression a time when making a living was hard, and people often traveled from place to place around the country in search of work. Because life was so hard, the characters longed for an escape and a safety zone to retreat to. "For all dreamers, the dream represents a chance to experience a sense of self-respect and dignity that is not available on the ranch where they currently live" (Steffens). Candy is a good example from this. Candy wants a place where he can live the rest of his life in peace given the way he had lost his dog. The characters' dreams to achieve their goal comes from the longing of wanting something that can save them from what they are suffering from. Candy wants to run away from loneliness, George and Lennie wants to run away to a place where they can be themselves. "The dream of land represents independence and dignity: the American Dream" (Hickey). The dream that George and Lennie holds symbolizes for the independence and freedom from the hectic world they live in. It propels them to move onwards in the harsh face of reality. The different dreams that each character holds dear to them are ways in which fantasy can be made into reality especially since that fantasy is driven by longing and a purpose to overcome the obstacles that lay ahead of them.
Steinbeck uses the characters of the book to explain how contagious dreams are by the loneliness, sadness, and misery that the characters felt and the craving to be free from the misery causes them to want to make their dreams come true also. One of the themes for the book was loneliness. It is because of loneliness that had caused Crooks to want to believe in the dream also. For Candy, his need of peace gives him the reason to want to join in. They both chase after happiness. After Candy lost his life long sheep dog, he finds himself upset, lonely, and at need of peace. "I have money. Would you mind if I come with you? I could cook and tend the chickens" (Steinbeck 43). Crooks, on the other hand, has been alone for so long. Books do not make up for a human companion, and so, Crooks' dream was to have companions and also to relieve himself from the isolation that was set because of his race. While Lennie was talking to Crooks about his dream, Crooks found himself suggesting "If you guys would want a hand to work for nothing -- why I'd come an' lend a hand (88). Both Crooks and Candy saw their dreams coming true in George's and Lennie's dream. They saw a way to escape with the hope of possibly achieving George's and Lennie's dream, and in return their dreams would possibly come true also. Loneliness gives a reason to want peace and freedom. "Dreams are contagious" (Steffens). Each character who had heard George's and Lennie's dream had wanted to be a part of it, because it was a way to escape. Candy wanted to have a life to where he could have peace, and Crooks a life where he could have companions. The loneliness and the need to get away from the misery causes Candy and Crooks to crave peace and freedom, and most importantly, happiness.
Steinbeck uses George and Lennie to show that friendship plays a huge role in the making of their dream. Without this bond that they share, the story would not have had the message and the plot that makes it interesting. Lennie depends on George, and George to Lennie. They both share the common goal, which is to acquire the American Dream. Because they live in such a hectic world where they have to strive to survive, having this dream of freedom and independence gives them motivation and propels them to move closer to their goal. This fantasy of theirs exerts such a feeling of hope to others around them. Because of their bond, they do not have the feeling of loneliness that Candy and Crooks wanted so badly to get away from. It is because of Lennie's and George's friendship that makes the dream contagious. "It is for this reason that Lennie and George's friendship is questioned by everyone and why their dream is so infectious, especially to the men such as Crooks and Candy, both whom long to escape this loveless, isolated existence" (Munro). It is the paradise, the Garden of Eden that provides what all the characters wish for. This paradise is their safety zone, because it is away from the loneliness and misery that they all feel. Their fantasy paradise will provides them the protection from the obstacles that seemed to befall them often. The thought of one day living in this paradise of theirs urges them to move closer to their goal.
John Steinbeck's way of explaining the themes, which mostly revolves around loneliness. Highlighting loneliness as one of the main themes of the novel, Steinbeck described most of the characters as trying to escape isolation, loneliness, etc. Their dreams, fantasies and hope gave them a chance to. Also, despite the hardships, their dream of having their own land still clung to them. The dream no matter how far-fetched, kept them together. As a person, the need to strive for something great is just too compelling. People all around hold some desire, a dream, fantasy, or goal that gives them the motivation to move on about their routine everyday. Steinbeck put emphasis on this matter. Through his characters, he portrayed the importance of having something as precious as a dream through George and Lennie. Having a dream is as important as food and water. George and Lennie did not have a purpose if they did not have the want to achieve it. Without their dream, the novel would not have had the deep meaning that it possessed. In John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, he demonstrated that dreams, fantasies, and hope are a way to escape unhappiness, loneliness, and reality in general.
Hickey, Angela D., "Of Mice And Men." Masterplots, Fourth Edition (2010): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 24 Jan. 2012.
Munro, C. Lynn. "Of Mice And Men." Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series, Supplement (1997): 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web. 19 Jan. 2012.
Steffens, Bradley. Understanding Of Mice And Men. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc., 2002.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice And Men. New York: Penguin Group, 1993.