“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanor Roosevelt. Everybody is given the opportunity to dream, even characters in stories. In the book, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the author continuously emphasizes the different dreams that each character has. Readers are constantly reminded of the vital role that dreams play in their lives. Dreams serve as a constant reminder that each day, we all have something to live for. Life would be banal and immutable without something to work towards, this is the reason why many of us dedicate our lives to working towards our dreams. Thus, dreams played a significant role in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men because they gave direction in life during a period of time where hope was needed to continue living, and provided many characters with an escape from their cruel realities.
Dreams provide a roadmap to where one’s life wants to progress. In Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie dreamed of a different life than the one they currently had. In order to change their lives, they wanted to purchase land to make money and make something of themselves. “O.K. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs…”(Steinbeck, 14). George understood that this was not the situation that they wanted to be in. They wanted more for themselves and they wanted to have possessions that represented the idea of obtaining success.
George also knew that his life would be better if he left the ranch. On page 33 he says, “For two bits I’d shove out of here. If we can get jus’ a few dollars in the poke we’ll shove off and go up the American River and pan gold. We can make maybe a couple of dollars a day there, and we might hit a pocket” (Steinbeck, 33). However, George was also aware that it’s not easy to leave his current situation so he and Lennie worked in hopes of saving enough money for land. They both had to take small steps in order to achieve their dreams.
Dreams are also a vital part of our childhood. Many of our childhood experiences are filled with magic and dreams; some of our dreams were fulfilled while others remain with us in memory. The unfulfilled dreams remain apart of us, keeping a little piece of our youth with us. Curley’s wife had always dreamt of becoming an actress as a young child. She dreamt of being, “…in the movies and [having] nice clothes,” (Steinbeck, 89). Due to her young age at the time, her mother disapproved her aspirations of becoming an actress at the young age of 15. She believed that her, “…ol’ lady stole [her letter],” and she wasn’t, “… gonna stay no place where [she] couldn’t get nowhere or make something of [herself],” (Steinbeck, 88). Her aspirations of becoming an actress expressed her desire of being in the spotlight. Fast forward to her time on the ranch, it’s apparent that she suffers from isolation and loneliness. She is the only woman on the ranch and has nobody by her side to talk to, including her husband.
Curley does not view her as someone who needs a companion beside her, but rather as an object that he is able to push around. She is alone and is shut off from everybody else on the ranch due to her gender. She is seen as a flirtatious person with other men because that’s how she thought she could gain attention. Although her dream of becoming an actress is long gone, fragments of that dream still remained with her as she seeked the attention of the other workers on the ranch.
Many characters in the book are confronted with the harsh feeling of loneliness and dreams allowed them to escape those realities, even if it was for a brief period. Loneliness was an evident theme throughout the story. The town south of the ranch is located in Soledad, California. In Spanish, “Soledad” means loneliness, “Guys […] that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family…” (Steinbeck, 13). Isolation was a common situation that many characters in the book faced. Crooks is a character that clearly exhibits the feeling of isolation. Although Crooks’ dream was subtly presented to readers, it clearly shows Crooks yearning for a companion beside him. “…a guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you…” (Steinbeck, 72). Because Crooks is different from everyone else, it drives him to keep the doors to his world closed to others. His isolation from the world hindered him from dreaming. He wants to know what it’s like to have a companion beside him and for a brief period of time, there was hope for him to have companions beside him. He later shut down the idea knowing that it would never happen because he was different from everybody else.
While reading the book, an unchanging pattern was always present – none of the characters achieved their dreams. While there were times when the dreams were close to being achieved, societal circumstances at the time made it difficult for one to achieve their dreams. Through his writing, John Steinbeck is conveying the fact that because society is so flawed and unaccepting of others, it cuts dreams short.
It would’ve been possible for Crooks to achieve his dream if people were more accepting of him. Racism prevented him from being able to achieve his dreams and forced him to continue to live his life in isolation. George and Lennie would’ve been able to achieve their dreams if people were more accepting of Lennie. Lennie wouldn’t have gotten into his predicament, if people were more understanding of him rather than just George accepting him. Curley’s wife would’ve been able to achieve her dream of becoming an actress if her mom was more accepting of her aspirations. Acceptance from others could also provide encouragement and support in achieving dreams.
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