Hopes and dreams help people to escape the harsh realities of their ordinary lives. To what extent is this statement true in ‘Of mice and men’? ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a novel written in the year 1937 when the whole of America was suffering from the great depression and the poor economy. In such conditions, it is natural that the economic conditions of the country were not very good which would have directly affected the American population such as the lower-middle class.
This is what Steinbeck tries to portray in ‘Of Mice and Men’ that although the life was difficult for the poor people in America they had hopes and dreams and to fulfil that they used to work hard. Some such examples are of George, Lennie, Slim and Crooks. From the first chapter itself, Steinbeck describes George and Lennie’s dream. George dreams of owning his own farm so that he could be a boss of his own but because of financial reasons he is unable to and his dream remains a dream not coming true.
In the beginning of the novel we also see that Lennie is a burden on George and because of that he is not able to marry a girl,
‘I could get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. ‘ We also realise, that whenever George tries getting settled in a ranch, Lennie would do something horrific which would then lead them from escaping the farm, ‘You cant keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get.
Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time. An’ that ain’t the worst. You get in trouble. ‘ Every time this happens George’s dream of owning a farm fades away.
Lennie’s dream on the other hand, is a lot more immature compared to George’s because all he wants is to tend rabbits, ‘I can let you tend rabbits the rabbits all right. ‘ In some parts of the novel, his dream comes true such as in the first chapter when he kills a mouse, ‘Uh-uh. Jus’ a dead mouse, George. I didn’t kill it. Honest! I found it. I found it dead. ‘ Lennie is the most innocent character in the novel because when George says that they will have a farm of their own, he believes that it would come true and takes it from his heart.
That is why, he always gets excited whenever George talks about their future being bright, ‘I forget some a’ the things. Tell about how it’s gonna be. ‘ Curley’s wife has a completely different dream than that of George and Lennie. Steinbeck uses her character to show that women in those days were not given a lot of freedom from their husbands and were only meant to take care of their homes and families. Although, she goes around the ranch and flirts with all the workers despite Curley warning her, ‘bye, boys,’ this is when she comes to the bunkhouse searching for Curley.
In chapter five, when Lennie is sitting on his own in the bunkhouse, Curley’s wife goes to him and tells him about her wanting to become an actress, ‘Coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes- all them nice clothes they wear. An’ I coulda sat in them big hotels, an’ had pictures took of me. ‘ In this quote she is telling Lennie about her past. Curley’s wife gets Lennie to admit that he likes stroking soft things and makes him stroke her hair. He strokes too hard and she cries out, frightening Lennie and making him cling on to her.
When she will not stop screaming Lennie shakes her head and by accident breaks her neck. This therefore ends up the dreams of another character in the novel. Candy is another character who has hopes and dreams. Candy had lost his lost his right hand in a farm accident and is now reduced to the meanest job on the ranch, that of ‘swamper’ or menial cleaner. He also loses his beloved dog since Carlson kills him which makes him even lonelier. He then thinks of helping George and Lennie with their dream of having a farm of their own and agrees to join them as well and tells them about him having two hundred and fifty dollars,
‘An’ they give me two hundred an’ fifty dollars cause I los’ my hand. An’ I got fifty more saved up right in the bank. Right now. ‘ Crooks is a negro and because of that he is given a different room in the ranch. He feels lonely since he has nobody to talk to and is a victim of racism from Curley’s wife ‘nigger, I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t funny. ‘ He therefore has two dreams; the first is to fit with all the other ranch workers who all call him a ‘nice falla’ and the second is to get away from the extreme racism he gets on the ranch and to start a new life.
Unfortunately, none of his dreams are fulfilled, just like the other characters. Altogether, hopes and dreams definitely help people to escape from the harsh realities of their ordinary lives. Every character in this novel has some problem or the other such as, the colour of their skin, being less bright and being lonely. After reading this novel, we certainly get a feeling of the difficult lives that were lived by the poor people of that time. Also, hopes and dreams make people stronger with their lives since they have a motive to live for.