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OF MICE AND MEN - THE AMERICAN DREAM IS PRESENTED AS A SAD ILLUSION

Uploaded by phaeacian on May 29, 2005

Steinbeck’s novel presents the American Dream as a sad illusion. Discuss.

Of Mice and Men is one of the most powerful and symbolic books of its era. It is, as Steinbeck put it, “…a study of the dreams and pleasures of everybody in the world,” examining many different aspects of human existence. A theme central to this novel is the idea of the American Dream, and of its failure as a realistic possibility. The American Dream is one of liberty, untarnished happiness and self-reliance.

The protagonists, George Milton and Lennie Small, centralized their relationship over their dream. The dream was to ‘Someday…get the jack together…have a little house and a couple of acres…” (p.16) This displays George’s belief that one eventual day, their dream will come true, if they saved up their money. He also suggested to Candy that “S’pose they was a carnival or a circus come to town, or a ball game, or any damn thing…We’d just go to her.” (p.61) This indicates that George yearned after the American Dream, wishing to be free and self-reliant, able to go anywhere he’d like at anytime. However, there are hints of the impossibility of this dream. George averred that on their land, “…the cream is so God damn thick you have to cut it with a knife and take it out with a spoon.” (p.57) Also, Lennie claims that they should get different coloured rabbits, and George agrees, saying, “Sure we will. Red and green and blue rabbits Lennie. Millions of ‘em” (p.18) These ideas show that the dream was unrealistic and thus unattainable. Even Crooks claimed that “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’... Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.” (p. 73) In the conclusion of the novel, George and Lennie’s dream was shattered when George was forced to kill Lennie. Although Candy and George were resolute and worked hard in order to attempt and attain independence and their own land, they still did not succeed in doing so. Their journey, which awakened George to the impossibility of...

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Uploaded by:   phaeacian

Date:   05/29/2005

Category:   Of Mice And Men

Length:   4 pages (798 words)

Views:   5367

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