In the book “Of Mice and Men”, Steinbeck uses hopes and dreams to thicken the plot and make the reader take a large interest into the character’s lives. Loneliness plays a large part in the book, which leads the people to develop dreams as a way to escape from their loneliness and depression, it also gives them hope for the future. The main characters in the story each have a dream, which they are unable to fulfil. Even the title of the book refers to dreams. It is a quotation from a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, “The Best Laid Plans Of Mice And Men Gang Aft Agley.
The structure and the plot of the novel revolve around hopes and dreams, the drive to attain them and the disappointment when they are crushed. In Lennie’s case, his dream provides a respite from the harsh environment of the novel- especially when George is telling his dream as a story. A smile immediately forms on Lennie’s face at the mere thought of his dream, “Lennie was still smiling in delight at the memory of the ranch”. (page 66). In the book George’s dream is to “have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs” (page 15).
The dream of owning land is part of the American Dream and is what motivates Lennie and especially George to work on the ranch. Without them doing this it would be virtually impossible for them to obtain enough money to achieve their dream. The reason why George has this dream is because he has always worked on someone else’s land and has always been ordered around by someone else, which he is getting tired of. George sometimes feels that having Lennie around hinders his prospects of achieving his vision, which makes him all the more determined to accomplish it.
George is initially realistic about achieving his dream and comes very close to achieving it when Candy offers him a large sum of money to buy the land. He then becomes cynical as his dream is shattered when Lennie kills Curley’s wife and he knows he should shoot him. When he does it was like the other half of him was missing. The passion of them accomplishing that had died down. Also he wouldn’t have the joy of Lennie as his companion. Although George found Lennie annoying he had known him all his life and cared for him.
Lennie’s dream is similar to George’s, he to wants the American dream of owning land and becoming self-sufficient. Lennie because he has the intellect of a child cannot grasp this concept as well as George can and is childly amused by the dream. All Lennie is really interested in is having several rabbits of his own because he has an addiction for petting soft animals such as rabbits, puppies and mice which is due to the fact that he has the mind of a child, which shows that he has a simple personality. “Tell us what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages” (page 15).
Lennie wanted to live a happy life without being troublesome to George whom he has utmost respect for, which is confirmed when George says to Lennie “You can’t remember nothing that happens, but you remember ever’ word I say. ” (page 109). Lennie is always being told off by George for petting small furry creatures, so he doesn’t have the opportunity to do so which makes him more excited about the prospect of owing rabbits. “You gonna give me that mouse of do I have to sock you”. Lennie is very idealistic about his dream because he doesn’t understand the concept of how difficult it is to achieve it.
He really only wants to have pet rabbits which isn’t such a daunting prospect as purchasing land. Candy too dreams of a better life. This is shown when he overhears George and Lennie talking about their dreams and offers a large sum of money to them to request to live with them up until he dies. Candy is very lonely on the ranch since he is much older than the other workers. His age has robbed him of his usefulness and he isn’t worth much to the ranch’s employer as the other men, so he fears unemployment.
He accepts that he will be “canned” within the near future and he wants to spend what the rest of his life content and fulfilling his vision of the American dream. Candy is both cynical and idealistic about reaching his dream. He seems to get so close when he teams up with George and Lennie to purchase a piece of land. Therefore he begins thinking realistically about the dream and then becomes cynical after he finds out that Lennie killed Curley’s wife and instantly knows that attaining the dream is not going to happen.
Curley’s wife’s dream was to become an actress or work in show business. “He says he was gonna put me in the movies. Says I was a natural”. Becoming an actress is her dream since she craves being the centre of attention and everyone looking up to her. Which is shown on the many occasion that she comes to the worker’s bunkhouse pretending to look for her husband and trying to get attention from the workers and stir up trouble. Her dream was shattered when at fifteen he mother forbade her to pursue becoming an actress so then she married Curley.
On the ranch none of the workers will talk to her because they know that she is trying to stir up trouble. This makes her crave attention and someone to talk to even more. She feels that marrying Curley was a huge mistake and would still like to follow a career in show business. Curley’s wife is very cynical about achieving her dream as she is always regretting her past and never planning a way to escape from Curley to obtain a better future. She has almost given up on her dream. Curley’s wife’s dream shows us that she has quite a shallow personality since all she wants is attention.
Lastly, Crook’s dream is to be treated equally and not to be alienated from the rest of the world because of racial prejudice. He was born in this part of America that has a lot of racial prejudice and practically consists of white people, which alienates him from the rest of the ranch. Since he is black no one will talk to him, he isn’t allowed to participate in ranch activities and he has to live separately from the other workers in the barn. This loneliness he suffers from makes him want people to like him and talk to him even more.
He becomes so isolated that he begins to show signs of becoming crazy when he talks to Lennie in chapter four. Crook’s is cynical about achieving his dream as he knows that he can’t change his appearance so he feels that his dream is unattainable, which realistically it probably was in 1930’s America. Taking place during the great depression era in America, these individuals struggled to survive and each had a dream, which they were unable to carry out. As said by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, “The best laid plans o’ mice and men oft go awry and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy”.