Hopes and Dreams are Important in "Of Mice and Men". Discuss John Steinbeck was born on February 27th 1902 in Salinas, California and died on December 20th 1968 in New York, N.Y. He was best known for The Grapes of Wrath (written in 1939), which summed up the bitterness of the Great Depression decade and helped to arouse sympathy for the migrant farm workers. He had the honour of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1962. In 1937 he wrote the novella Of Mice and Men, which is a tragic story about the complex bond between two migrant labourers, Lennie and George. Much of Steinbeck's inspiration for writing these two novellas came from the Great Depression. The Great Depression was an economic slump that affected North America, Europe, and most other industrialized areas of the world; it began in 1929 and lasted until about 1939.
It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the Western world. The Great Depression began with a collapse of stock-market prices of the New York Stock Exchange in October 1929. As a result many banks were forced into collapse; by 1933, 11,000 of the United States' 25,000 banks had failed. One of the results of the Depression was the number of unemployed people in America; in 1930 there were 3 million unemployed, but this would soon rise to 11 million. Many migrant workers went to California from other parts of America in search of work. Men, usually travelled alone from ranch to ranch on poorly laid short-term contracts.
The dream of owning our own piece of land was a common one. One thing shared by many during the Depression was the American dream; this was the thought that you could be the master of your own fate and that great success could be earned through hard work. This is a theme of "Of Mice and Men" which is shared by all the workers and even Curley's wife. This hope kept most workers going during the Depression. Unfortunately this dream was rarely possible as most workers were migrant workers like Lennie and George and for one reason or another this dream was foiled. Lennie and George dreamt of owning a 'piece of land' and livestock and living off the 'fatta the lan' with no one to be their boss.
They dream of saving enough stake to buy their own small ranch leaving behind the loneliness, poverty and insecurity of being a migrant worker. George's dream is to run a self-sufficient farm. Lennie's dream is to tend the rabbits on the farm. This dream is all that they have and it is what keeps them travelling from ranch to ranch in search of enough money. This dream keeps them working through the hardship and gives them hope.
The hardship that they constantly go through is caused by the fact that they are migrant workers working on a ranch for long backbreaking days for little pay and they live with the thought that they could lose their job any day for relatively little reason. As a result of this they have almost no personal freedom. The dream offers Lennie and George an escape from this hardship and a life of happiness and self-control where they can choose to do what they want and symbolizes their liberty. Their dream is to own a plot of land 'ten acres, got a little win " mill. Got a little shack on it, an' a chicken run. Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries, apples, peaches, 'cots, nuts, got a few berries.
They's a place for alfalfa and plenty water to flood it. They's a pig pen. ' There isn't a place for Lennie's rabbits but George 'could build a few hutches'. 'an' we could have a few pigs. I could build a smoke house like gran " pa had' much of the plans in Lennie and George's dream are from experiences during childhood 'an' when we kill a pig we can smoke the bacon and the hams, and make sausages an' all like that- there is a sense of heritage to the dream. An' when the salmon run up the river we could catch a hundred of 'em an's alt 'em down or smoke 'em. We could have them for breakfast.
They ain't nothing so nice as a smoked salmon. When the fruit come in we could can it - and tomatoes, they " re easy to can. Ever's un day we'd kill a chicken or a rabbit. Maybe, we'd have a cow or a goat, and the cream is so God damn thick you got to cut it with a knife and take it out with a spoon.
' Most importantly to their dream is that 'we'd jus' live there. We'd belong there', 'An' it'd be our own'. This is so important to Lennie and George because they have spent their lives working for other people and living in bunkhouses but the dream meant that they could have a 'room to ourself' and some privacy. The conditions of the farm sound like heaven to Lennie and George- they would have so much more freedom than they do as present Above all George and Lennie's dream bring hope, not only to them but also to Candy and also to Crooks. Candy over hears George's description to Lennie and takes immediate interest in the dream because of the hope it brings.
Candy knows that he soon will be canned ' as soon as I can't swamp out no bunk houses'. Candy wants a place to stay for the future and a place to put himself to use, the dream offers Candy this, and at a place of his own. The dream has offered Candy a future even after he has been canned. Candy is desperate now that Carlson has shot Candy's dog, Candy needs a companion and a future- he cannot swamp bunks for much longer. This dream of a piece of land is so powerful and believable that it can even win over the cynicism of Crooks the Negro stable buck and he is interested. The dream offers Crooks a job as a near equal; he offers to be 'a hand to work for nothing - just his keep'.
Crooks admits that 'a guy needs somebody - to be near him... a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick', he sees the dream as the hope of being more than a cripple Negro stable buck. The dream would give Crooks companions, some one he could talk to and an escape from his lonely present where 'a guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody'. The dream gives Crooks the chance to work the land with his companions and to possibly become an equal and to have equal rights like he desires and from when he was a child 'the white kids come to play at our place, an's ome times I went to play with them'. Crooks deeply resents being thought of as 'just a nigger' and needs to defend himself by learning his rights from 'a battered copy of the California Civil Code'.
Crooks hopes t get away from the ranch, where he is bullied by the boss 'gives him hell when he's mad' and is kept separate from the bunkhouse, he 'had his bunk in the harness room, a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn'. The only time Crooks is ever allowed into the bunkhouse is at Christmas, when the rest of the workers use him as an opponent in their fights, where the only decent action to him are shown by banning kicking in the fights on account of his spine. The dream offers both Candy and Crooks the hope that they could be more than what they are at the ranch. The dream is very attractive to them. The dream also gives George control over Lennie.
This is because of Lennie's childishness; George can use the rabbits as a threat over Lennie because he knows they are so important to him. The dream also gives George the hope of an easier life with Lennie; no running from lynches mobs as in Weed. The dream gives Lennie and George the hope of pushing towards a certain future where they are their own bosses and can do as they please. At the same time the dream also offers Lennie and George an escape from their intolerable present where they live with poor wages, constant moving from ranch to ranch and the threat of being canned. Curley's Wife's death ends their dream because George is forced to shoot Lennie to save him from a lynching.
Curley's wife ends Crooks' thoughts of living on the land when she interrupts his proposition Curley's Wife's dream is to be an actress, she tells Lennie about 'when I was a kid... I met one of the actors. He says I could go with that show' and on another occasion she 'met a guy, an' he was in pitchers... he says he was gonna put me in the movies. Says I was a natural. Soon as he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write me about it. ' On both of these occasions she did not make fame and blames both on her 'ol' lady'.
Because of this she spites her mother and married Curley to go out of a 'place where I couldn't get nowhere'. She is now stuck in a rut with Curley where she lives in a '2 x 4' on a ranch where she doesn't belong. The dream of Hollywood offered her fame and fortune- the American Dream, it offered her an escape from her boring life on the ranch, through which she tries to live her Hollywood dreams in the way she dresses. All the workers treat her like a tart and a girl. She still dreams of making something of herself and plans to ditch Curley after two weeks.
Curley's Wife's dream's ended by Lennie. Curley's wife brings an end to all dreams in the novella. Curley's future should be to take over the ranch and live happily with his new wife. Curley was a professional boxer and was 'pretty handy'. Curley's dream is to win the Golden Gloves competition and achieve the heroic glamour of championship boxing; he wanted to be a winner. Because of his size Curley has built up an inferiority complex and feels he has to prove himself by fighting men bigger than himself.
Curley's hate for 'big guys' leads him into first confronting Lennie, then attacking him. The result of this is Curley's hand being crushed by Lennie's great strength; Curley was keeping a 'hand for his wife'. The crippling of his hand means that he cannot box and therefore his dream is destroyed. Curley has no friends on the ranch, even his wife doesn't like him 'he's not a nice guy' this puts his marriage in jeopardy. Curley has to constantly prove himself to his wife and the workers because of his size. Even if he does lose a fight he will have the workers gang up on his opponent.
He has to constantly chase his wife around the ranch because she is a tart and has the 'eye'. All the workers know she is a tart and that Curley is always chasing her, 'he has ants in his pants'. Hopes and dreams are very important in the novel 'Of mice and Men'. This is because they drive all the characters and determine their actions and control their reactions. The characters constant struggle for their dreams push them into the defining situations in the novel.