In elementary school, my teachers used to instruct us to make posters about our hopes and dreams for the year. I personally hated making those posters because I didn’t understand why we needed to do it. For me, it was just another thing I had to complete, but I now realize the importance of having dreams. Dreams are a crucial part of life because they give a person a reason to keep living.
Dreams are the seasonings in one’s life; they give life flavor and without them, people’s lives are tasteless. In the book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, dreams play a significant role because they give the characters purpose and motivation. The characters’ dreams also become their weaknesses that result in them taking risky paths. Through his characters, Steinbeck shows that dreams give people a purpose, but he also recognizes that they are hard to achieve and at times, they are unattainable.
In this text, one dream Steinbeck talks about is George and Lennie’s dream. Their shared dream was to have a land of their own. Although they shared the same dream, they both had different desires when it came to the dream. Lennie’s desire was to tend the rabbits while George’s desire was to have a sense of ownership. This dream they had was hard to attain. One of the reasons for this is because of the time period they lived in and the jobs they had. The 1930s was the time of the Great Depression. George and Lennie were migrant workers that moved from place to place. They had no home or family except each other.
However, at one point, their dream seemed achievable because everything seemed to be falling into place. When Candy provided to help with the money for buying the land, everything suddenly seemed very realistic, but as we see later in the book, their dream of having a land where they could “live off the fatta the land” didn’t come true (Steinbeck 59).
Their dream didn’t come true because Lennie killed Curley’s wife resulting in him dying later in the book. The dream they had existed because of the friendship Lennie and George had. When Lennie died, so did the dream they talked about since the very beginning of the book. Their dream was very important because it was what motivated them to stay and work at the ranch but it was their dream that also put them in risky situations. For example, before Lennie killed Curley’s wife, he said, “ Oh! Please don’t do none of that, George gonna say I done a bad thing. He ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits” (Steinbeck 91). The longing Lennie had for this dream to come true resulted in him taking a life.
Another dream that’s revealed in this book is Crooks’ dream. Crooks is the stable buck and the only black person in this book. In the book, Crooks longs to have a friend and someone he can talk to. When he was talking to Lennie, he expresses how lonely it gets not having anyone around him. This dream wasn’t very realistic because in the book, Crooks tells Lennie that there’s one other black family in Soledad other than him. Since there’s only one family that’s black, Crooks doesn’t have anyone that he can relate to when it comes to racial issues.
Everyone around him was white which at the time, made all the difference. This dream is important to Crooks because he has no one that he can call his friend. He stresses that, “ A guy needs somebody—to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody” (Steinbeck 72). This shows that for Crooks, having someone to be there for him is really important and would make a big difference in his life. As predicted, Crooks’ dream doesn’t come true. In the text, Crooks dream of having someone seemed to be going somewhere when he asked to join Candy, Lennie, and George on their plan to buy the land. However, his dream is squashed when Curley’s wife reminds him of his place in society and how she could get him “ strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny” (Steinbeck 81). It almost seemed like the thought of his dream coming true gave Crooks courage to speak up against Curley’s wife, but like Crooks recognized earlier in the book, if he says something,“ Why it’s just a ni**er sayin it.”
Curley’s wife is introduced as an unpleasant person who no one wants to get close to. As the book progresses, Curley’s wife has a dream just like most of the character’s in the book. Her dream was to become and actress and to be known. Her dream to become an actress was once realistic and attainable but after her marriage to Curley, the book conveys that as a woman, her only job was to stay at home. This dream is important because it comes from the lack of freedom and companionship she had in her life. When she was talking to Lennie, she talks about how her mother didn’t let her achieve her dream of becoming an actress (Steinbeck 88).
In the book, it also shows how lonely Curley’s wife is when she goes around finding ways to talk to the workers at the ranch who have repeatedly made it clear they want nothing to do with her. Her loneliness is greatly revealed when she talks to Lennie in the barn. In the book it says, “ She went on with her story quickly, before she should be interrupted” (Steinbeck 88). This shows how desperate she was to have someone pay attention and listen to her. She was desperate to the point of risking talking to Lennie while knowing his strength and mental state. Her dreams of becoming of an actress don’t come true because of the role she played in the society. She was just a woman whose name wasn’t even worth mentioning throughout the book. This conveys how unvalued and unimportant women were at that time which resulted in her dreams also being unimportant. Her dreams never had a chance to become reality because Curley’s wife was murdered by Lennie.
In this book, Steinbeck writes about the different dreams that the characters had. Although the dreams were all attainable and weren’t impossible to achieve, none of the characters in the book were able to see their dreams come true. This is because of people’s inability to accept everyone for the way they are. Most of the time, instead of accepting others, people degrade and take advantage of anyone that is in any way inferior to them. Steinbeck communicates this throughout the book when Curley tries to fight Lennie, when Curley’s wife threatens to have Crooks hung, and when Carlson kills Candy’s dog while knowing how much the dog meant to Candy. The biggest thing that Steinbeck is communicating in Of Mice and Men is that dreams aren’t impossible to fulfill; most of the time, people just never get the chance to achieve them because of others’ lack of compassion.