Of Mice and Men: Impact of Dreams on Life and Relationships

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Many people in life have always been asked what is their dream for the future. Some might say a dream is possible and achievable with hard work and dedication, but others, not so much. Some examples of an unreachable dream are the two fictional stories Of Mice and Men and Two Kinds. The novel Of Mice and Men is based on the real lives and impacts of America’s most known economic disaster, The Great Depression. Meanwhile, the short story called Two Kinds is about the struggles and lack of connection a mother and daughter have with one another. Dreams and aspirations could be seen in Of Mice and Men and Two Kinds leaving a negative mark on many relationships and lives because it could create distance between two individuals and force people into a psychologically damaging mindset that drives people to become someone they are not.

Throughout Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck revealed how dreams could impact one’s life and relationship with others. For instance, when Curley’s wife and Lennie were alone, she confessed to him, “‘I never got that letter… I ast her if she stole it, too, an’ she says no. So I married Curley… I don’ like Curley,’” (Steinbeck 88-89). The text portrays how Curley’s wife’s dream affected her negatively because she did not get a call back from the man she met, but it also caused her to marry Curley. By marrying Curley, she now regrets being engaged to him and is forced to be isolated from other living beings besides her husband. When she was isolated from other people, she felt like she had to put up the persona of a flirtatious lady, but in fact, she just wanted someone to talk to; her dream is shown to be unachievable due to the fact that she was displaying a fake image of herself on the outside rather than her true self. Even Steinbeck supports this idea because he stated her as “… and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive…” (Steinbeck 93). This scene illustrates how Curley’s wife was not what she was made to be seen and instead, she was actually a beautiful, gentlewoman. Not only does this affect someone’s life but relationships as well. An example of this is when Lennie was strangling Curley’s wife, he said in distress, “‘Oh! Please don’t do none of… He ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits,’” (Steinbeck 91). Steinbeck is trying to show the qualities of a dream worth pursuing because of how determined Lennie is about the dream of tending rabbits to the point that he murdered an innocent person’s life for it. The dream also illustrates how it changed Lennie’s life because George, “… raised the gun and steadied it… [and] pulled the trigger,” (Steinbeck 106). George’s actions convey how the dream gave Lennie motivation to keep on going, but the consequence of it was Lennie dying by the hands of George and traumatizing George because he finally realizes that his best friend was gone forever and also their dream. Throughout Of Mice and Men, the topic of dreams had been displayed all around the novel, but the dreams and aspirations’ effect on the characters show how its impact could be harmful mentally or physically and even lead to death.

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As dreams and aspirations can be seen in Of Mice and Men, it could also be disclosed in the fictional story, Two Kinds written by Amy Tan. Particularly, as Jing-Wei went to the bathroom, she thought to herself, “Such a sad, ugly girl! I made high – pitched noises like a crazed animal, trying to scratch out the face in the mirror,” (Tan 2). As shown above, Jing-mei showed signs of a crumbling dream because she was so pressured into pleasing her mother’s dream for her that she starts to lose herself mentally and even began hating herself for something that she was not capable of doing. To put it in another way, the readers could also see how Jing-mei’s mother thought that the dream for her daughter to become a genius and an expert pianist was worth going after because there was a reward at the end, which was stardom and prosperity but instead, it negatively affected their relationship. This is illustrated when Jing-mei and her mother were arguing with one another and she yelled, “‘I wish I were dead! Like them’… she backed out of the room, stunned, as if she were blowing away like a small brown leaf, thin, brittle, lifeless,” (Tan 7). Henceforth, by the brief description of Jing-mei’s mother’s reaction, it proved how this comment affected her due to her abandoning the babies in China. This comment was especially personal to the family, especially to her mother, and by her bringing it up as a way to express how her passion to live up to her mother’s expectations was over really dented their mother and daughter relationship forever. It is important to realize how the dream of Jing-wei becoming a genius and an expert in piano tore a mother and daughter away from each other more than it already did and how it influenced Jing-wei to think so lowly about herself.

In the end, both Steinbeck and Tan both propose that many people are driven more apart as time passes by and are forced to put up an image of someone else. All through Of Mice and Men and Two Kinds, both stories expressed the qualities of a dream worth pursuing, how a dream could negatively affect someone, and when it is impossible to complete. Lennie, Curley’s wife, and Jing-mei was a good example of this. Lennie murdered Curley’s wife to keep his dream alive because he had a desire to tend rabbits and Curley’s wife showed how a dream could cause someone’s life to go downhill like how she was forced to not speak to anyone and hide her true self from others. At the same time, Jing-mei showed how a dream could be unreachable or even harmful when she brought back a past incident that occurred to her mother and realizing that she could never meet her mother’s expectations of a well-known prodigy. With these stories, the readers could see that not all dreams are full of joy and passion but rather of hardships, heartbreaks, and death.


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