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Dreams and goals in Of Mice and Men

Dreams and Goals in John Steinbecks of Mice and Men

Dreams and goals play very important rules in everyones life. Therefore they appear in several literary works, just like in Steinbecks Of Mice and Men. Dreams are motivating every character and for that very reason, all of them have a particular aim. Their dreams are not related to the fashionable American Dream; they do not want to be rich or famous, they just dream about a normal, everyday life. These dreams influence all the characters life and behavior. Most of the novels characters are migrant farm-workers. They do not have a home, they move from place to place, working temporarily at farms. It is a clear-cut that all of them dream about having a definite home. Based on my observations, the novels characters can be divided in three categories, taking into account their dreams. Characters from the first category dream about a kind of material possession. Here belong the average workers, such as George, Candy and probably Carlson too. They all want to possess land and have a small home. The second type of characters want to be accepted and understood by the others; due to this their dreams have a social aspect. Curleys wife and Crooks are outcasts. Both are afraid of loneliness, but they do not want to confess it. The third type of characters have an obsession with their dreams. They are different from the others because they behave like fanatics. Obviously Lennie belongs in this category, but also Curley, the selfish farmer. From a point of view, their dreams are already sick. Lennie, the stupid giant has a passion for small, soft animals. He is so silly that sometimes he is inclined to think that women are also little animals because of their tenderness and limpness. Curley, the other obsessed character behaves in an odd way due to his physical disadvantage: he is short. This is the reason why he sees Lennie as his rival, or enemy. George Milton is not a typical farm-worker, even if he dreams about having his own land. He is not alone as the other workers. There is a sort of friendship between him and Lennie. But

not us! And why? Because because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and thats why (Steinbeck 15). George behaves like a caring father and seemingly Lennie replaces the family for him. They know each other from their childhood. At that time George did not like Lennie, he always fooled the silly giant. Once he almost killed Lennie by telling him to jump in the river. The reason of Georges carefulness may be pity or he just wants to keep his word to Aunt Clara. He could get rid of Lennie many times, but they remained together. George sees their friendship more valuable than money. He does not care if they had to look after another job because of Lennies misbehavior. They have something in common: a dream. Both of them see this dream from another perspective: while George sees the financial security and the independence provided by a home, Lennie is always talking about the rabbits and how he will take care of them. Their dream seems to be only a mirage; there was a slight chance to make it real. When Candy offers his money and wants to join their dream, even George is surprised by the closeness of their goal. They already count the days to get the last cents to purchase the land they were dreaming about. But Lennie ruins everything by killing Curleys wife. Lennie, after his unintended act, hides and waits for George. When George goes to Lennies hiding place, he already knew how to solve their problem: he decided to kill Lennie. The angry farm workers were searching for the killer and George did not want them to torture Lennie and this is why he kills his own friend. George killed Lennie even if his hand shook violently (Steinbeck 105). Lennie could be saved only by his own death. Lennie Small, the tragic hero of the novel is like a big child with enormous power. He uses his power well, but on the other hand his mental disability makes him a stupid, but lovable person. His enthusiasm for soft creatures will cause his dreadful death. Lennie causes this kind of

trouble two times. When the first case happened, George was there to prevent the girls death. But when Lennie was talking with Curleys wife, George could not save the girl because he was not there. Lennie was not aware of the fact that he actually killed an innocent life. Otherwise, Lennie tried to keep himself away from Curleys wife and we can say that her death was rather her own fault than Lennies. She herself caused the trouble: Some people got kinda coarse hair, [] But mine is soft and fine. [] Here feel right here. She took Lennies hand and put it on her head (Steinbeck 89). Lennie could not release her hair and the inevitable tragedy happens quickly. She started to shout and Lennie tried to mute her. He was afraid of George and the fact that their dream may not come true. For him, the girls death was not shocking; he already killed several mice and puppies unintentionally. Lennie knows that he did something wrong, but he cannot measure the burden of his act. He hides in the bushes and waits for George. He dreads of the possibility to not have the rabbits. Poor Lennie died with the image of his dream-world in front of his eyes. George asked him to imagine their home: Lennie. Look down there across the river, like you can almost see the place (Steinbeck 104). It was not cruelty from Georges part; this was the only way to save Lennie. Candy, the old farm worker also has his dream. He wants to have a small piece of land. When he hears George and Lennie talking about their dream, he asks them to join the business with his considerable amount of money. By Candys help, George and Lennie feel that they are very close to make their dream come true. Candys only companion was his old, blind, stinky but faithful dog. The other workers convince him to get rid of the dog and instead of his old dog he can get one of Slims puppies. Right after losing his dog he feels the urge to find a place for himself quickly because the others

will try to get rid of him, as they did with his dog. Candy is also part of that alienated society which environs the workers. He is so lonely that he opens himself up to strangers. When he sees George and Lennies friendship, he tries to be friends with them. From a point of view he was selfish because he thinks about his ruined dream when he finds Curleys wife dead. By the way he offers his help to George and eventually helps him when they find the corpse. Candy would be pleased with a small house and a little piece of land. His desires are minimal, he is not dreaming about luxury. It is obvious from his words: They got a good stove there? (Steinbeck 61). Candys dream is over with the girls death. Crooks, the Negro worker is the only character who has his private space. He lives in the barn because he is excommunicated by the other workers. Even if he is an isolated person, he is smart and educated: he has several books and after finishing his work he reads every evening. He tries to replace human companions with books. When Crooks learns about his co-workers plan to get a home, he asks them to enroll him but he changes his mind quickly. He is a proud man and never wants to accept help from the others. He even gives up his secondary dream, the dream of having a home because of his pride. He thinks that he can have a serious conversation with Lennie. Because of his loneliness he starts to talk about his feelings but Lennie is not interested about anything except rabbits. Crooks, after realizing that Lennie is unable to pay attention to anything, still continues his speech. He chases the silly giant to desperation by asking him Spose George dont come back no more. Spose he took a powder and just aint coming back. Whatll you do then? (Steinbeck 71). He could not calm Lennie down and at this point he realizes that hes nuts (Steinbeck 73) and that he is bounded to George as if they were brothers. After talking some time with Lennie, Candy appears and enters Crooks place. At that moment it was difficult to conceal his pleasure

with anger (Steinbeck 74). He pretends to be angry but in reality he is pleased and he has a gleam of hope, to be accepted by the other workers. Crooks wants to be a part of the society, a worker equal with the others. His skins color is a disadvantage for him; it keeps him back from having friends. His dream remains unfulfilled and he never gets close to anyone. Curleys wife, the young and beautiful woman also dreams about having someone by her side. Even though she is married to Curley, she is alone. She is an outcast, just like Crooks. She tries to get close to the workers by flirting with them but she always gets rejected, even if she is beautiful and the only woman in the ranch. Her husband does not care about her, he just works, and this is why the girl tries to make friends. She is encircled with the denying workers, but she knows well that Lennie is not as dismissive as the others. Even if he tries to keep himself away from Curleys wife, once she manages to have a conversation with him. She tempts Lennie to touch her hair, without knowing the result of this. Her death will ruin the other characters dreams: Candy loses his hope to get a home, George loses his companion, Lennie loses the permission to have rabbits and also his life. In my opinion Steinbeck did not consider her a very important character. The fact that she has no name makes her a grey character. Even if she wears attractive clothes and makeup, she is not an outstanding woman. Sometimes the workers call her a whore because of her behavior. When she appears in the novel for the first time she seems to be a real femme fatale, who causes death to men. But finally we find out that she cannot tempt men and instead of them, she will be the one who dies. Just like Crooks, she also talks about her secrets to Lennie. Lennie, who seems to be a good listener, cannot understand the essence of the girls speech. Curleys wife talks to

him about her earlier dream, to become an actress. She fails both her dreams: she did not become an actress and she has no friends. Curley is the boss son on the ranch. He is a small man who always wears high-heeled boots. Because of his physical disadvantage he hates everyone who is bigger than he is. This is why he considers Lennie his enemy. He envies those who are not physically derogatory. At the first occasion he picks at Lennie and hits him because he was laughing in Curleys presence. He thought that Lennie laughed at his height. He becomes frightened when he almost loses one of his hands, due to Lennies enormous power. The workers come to an arrangement with Curley: if he does not fire George and Lennie, they will keep this accident under their hat. In the next days Curley keeps himself away from the giant. When he learns that his wife is dead, he feels an urge to take revenge on the killer. At the end of the novel he seems to be satisfied by Lennies death. His rival is killed, but his obsession to be tall remains a dream. He has an aggressive attitude throughout the story, and it was obvious that it cannot lead to a good ending. Slim, another important character of the novel is an odd-one-out. He does not talk about his thoughts or feelings. It seems that he does not have a dream. He is a very honest person and he is friendly with the other characters. Slim has an influence on Curley; he comes to the previously mentioned arrangement with their boss. He works as a skinner on the ranch. He is the only person who understands the narrow bond between George and Lennie. The idea of the novel Of Mice and Men comes from a real life event: the author was inspired from his own experiences. Working as a bindle stiff himself in the early 1920s, Steinbeck saw a huge and troubled man kill a ranch foreman [] Lennie was a real person (Shillinglaw XIII). While reading the novel, it is hard to imagine that it has real sources. This is why we are surprised at the end of the novel. The final scene is unforeseen and surprising.

All the characters lose the hope of achieving their dreams. Life is so cruel; it ruins every characters goal. None of them end happily, some of them also die. Crime is often the result of [] evil forces of Capitalism (163), notices Peter B. High. It is the negative effect of the society and of the civilization. As a conclusion we can say that these dreams influenced the characters behavior and manifestation and also their life. They fail to make their dreams come true, but the struggles to make it real made them strong. John Steinbecks Of Mice and Men also confirms the fact that our lives would be senseless without dreams.

Works Cited

High, Peter B. An Outline of American Literature. New York: Longman, 2000. Print. Shillinglaw, Susan. Introduction. Of Mice and Men. London: Penguin Books. 2000. Print. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. London: Penguin Books. 2000. Print.

Works Consulted

Benson, Jackson J. ed. The Short Novels of John Steinbeck. New York: Duke University Press, 1990. Print. Moore, Andrew. Studying Of Mice and Men. Universal Teacher. 2011. Web. 08 Jun. 2012. Shmoop Editorial Team. "Of Mice and Men Themes" Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 3 Jun. 2012. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. London: Penguin Books. 2000. Print. Van Kirk, Susan. CliffsNotes on Of Mice and Men. 9 Jun 2012. Web. <>.