The Concept Of The American Dream In A Novel Of Mice And Men

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In “Of Mice and Men” John Steinbeck uses many characters to show how the American dream isn’t as accessible as it seems.

The times of the Great Depression caused hardship for most people living in the United States during that time. Goals and dreams may have been in the hearts of many but survival quickly replaced the ideas of success. Throughout the novel, George constantly speaks to Lennie about working towards their American dream. He encourages him to work so that Lennie can remain motivated in their future as he stated, ‘An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden…’ (Steinbeck 14). Based on the quote Lennie strongly believes that the dream is just an arm’s length away, but little does he understand that it’s more difficult than it seems. This fantasy that George gave Lennie is something to look forward to as he spends his days on the farm. As Crooks and Candy, other characters in the book, speak to Lennie about their American Dreams Crooks suddenly had a change in the heart after he is belittled by Curley’s wife who happens to hear the conversation Crooks said, “Member what I said about hoein’ and doin’ odd jobs…” (Steinbeck 83). After hearing Curley’s wife, Crooks feels that the reality of his dreams coming true is out of reach and he immediately turned his back towards the possibility of achieving success.

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While Lennie and Crooks both have similar dreams of a better life, Lennie is out of touch with reality and doesn’t understand he will never live his dream. Crooks was willing to work towards his dream allowed others to influence him and crush his efforts towards accomplishing them.

While Curley’s wife may have crushed Crooks’ dream, she had a dream of her own. She wanted to be an actress and hoped to make it to Hollywood one day. As she envisioned her life in the spotlight, Curley’s wife was even more encouraged after she had an evening out. She found herself sharing her excitement as she told others, “Nother time I met a guy, an’ he was in Pitchers… Says I was a natural. Soon’s he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write me about it.”(Steinbeck 88) Her excitement was diminished over time as the letter she hoped to receive never came. George continues to envision the life he strives for. This is clear when we read, “we’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens…” (Steinbeck 14-15). His enthusiasm remains encouraging but the struggles he endures allow his thoughts to remain an illusion.

After learning each character it was evident that the American dream wasn’t as accessible as one would hope. Lennie, Crooks, Curley’s wife, and George all had challenges that they could never overcome proving the American dream was not possible for all.

Work Cited 

  1. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin Books, 1938.   


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