The Importance of Hopes and Dreams in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a touching story of an unusual friendship between two men, George and Lennie. George is a responsible man and has travelled with Lennie for many years, despite the troubles that Lennie gets them both in. George and Lennie’s dream is to be the owners of a little farm. This is the their goal and this is in my opinion, the whole meaning of the story. There are frequent sections in the book where George starts their story of how they plan to live on the farm and Lennie finishes George’s sentences. One day – 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. ” To George, the dream of having their little farm means that he is independent, that he will be “somebody” and has the opportunity of being his own boss and can create his own rules without having to obey the rules of others. To Lennie, this dream is about having soft animals and pets. It means that George doesn’t have to be always warning him about his behavior, it gives him the responsibility of tending the rabbits, and gives him a place of security.
To Candy-their friend- he can see the farm as a place where he can show the responsibility that he didn’t take when he let Carlson kill his dog “I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to have let no stranger shoot my dog. ” Chapter 3, it also offers security because he was in a risk of being fired at the ranch because of his old age and a home where he can stay for many years. Having and sharing the dream, however, is hard and isn’t enough to make it happen. Each one of them must make a sacrifice if they want it to happen.
The obstacles are difficult but not impossible. They must stay out of trouble, which is very difficult when you live with Lennie, not spending money on liquor or in nightclubs, and working at the ranch long enough to save money to buy the farm. But greater obstacles soon are evident. Some of these obstacles aren’t always recognizable for example Curley’s violence with Lennie that can cause them to lose their job because Curley is the boss’s son. “Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys.
Kind of like he’s mad at ’em because he ain’t a big guy. ” Chapter 2. Others are more predictable such as Lennie’s strength and his need to touch soft things, because he has once been fired from another ranch for touching the wrong things. Misunderstanding Lennie’s love of soft things, a woman accused him of rape for touching her dress. George berates Lennie for his behaviour, but is convinced that women are always the cause of such trouble. For George, the greatest risk in the idea of having this dream is Lennie himself. “God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy.
I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble… An’ whatta I got,’ George went on furiously. ‘I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time. An’ that ain’t the worst. You get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out. ” Chapter 1. Curley’s wife also has dreams that although being different from the other’s dreams they are still very similar. She wants company first and tries to talk to the men on the ranch, this is similar to when George tells Lennie that they are lucky in having someone to talk. Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world… We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. ” Chapter 1. Unhappy because of her husband, she is constantly around the barn, trying to talk to the workers. The second part of her dream is similar to the men’s desire for their own land. She wanted to be an actress in Hollywood and she imagines how great it would be to stay in nice hotels and owning lots of clothes. Of Mice and Men teaches a grim lesson about the nature of human existence.
Nearly all of the characters admit at one time or another, to having a profound sense of loneliness and isolation. Each desires the comfort of a friend, but will settle for the attentive ear of a stranger. They admit to complete strangers their fear of being cast off which shows their desperation. The characters George, Lennie, Crooks, and Curley’s wife are rendered helpless by their isolation, and yet, even at their weakest, they seek to destroy those who are even weaker than they.
Perhaps the most powerful example of this cruel tendency is when Crooks criticizes Lennie’s dream of the farm and his dependence on George. Having just admitted his own vulnerabilities – he is a black man with a crooked back who longs for companionship. Steinbeck explores different types of strength and weakness throughout the novel. Great physical strength is valuable to men in George and Lennie’s circumstances. Lennie’s has strength beyond his control –like when he killed the mice.
Curley too, he is the symbol of authority on the ranch and a champion boxer, who intimidates men and his wife. But even the most visible strength – used to oppress others- is itself born of weakness. Much of the novel is about dreams and we can relate this story to the poem called “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns that assumed that the dreams aren’t always achievable just like the American Dream. Most of the characters in Of Mice and Men admit, at one point or another, to dreaming of a different life. Curley’s wife confessed her wish to become a movie star, just before her death.
Crooks, harsh as he is, allows himself the amusing fantasy of having a patch of garden on Lennie’s farm one day, and Candy holds on desperately to George’s vision of owning a couple of acres. What makes all of these dreams typically American is that the dreamers wish for happiness, for the freedom to follow their own wishes. George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm, which would enable them to sustain themselves, and, most important, offer them protection from an unfriendly world, represents a typical American dream.
Their journey, which awakens George to the impossibility of this dream, sadly proves that the bitter Crooks is right: such paradises of freedom, contentment, and safety are not to be found in this world. In the end the Buddha teachings seem to make sense; one of the reasons that the tragic end of George and Lennie’s friendship has such a profound impact is that one senses that the friends have, by the end of the novel, lost a dream larger than themselves. So “the best is not to dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment”.
As Oscar Wilde would put it “ a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world”. The farm on which George and Lennie plan to live is a place no one ever reaches. The men in Of Mice and Men desire to come together in a way that would allow them to be like brothers to one another. That is, they want to live with one another’s best interest in mind, to protect each other, and to know there is someone in the world dedicated to protecting them.
They show “ambition, which is the last refuge of the failure”, “anyone can be good in the country. There are no temptations there”- O. Wilde. Ultimately, however, the world is too harsh and predatory a place to sustain such relationships. They separate tragically. A friendship vanishes and the world fails to acknowledge or appreciate it. This is a story about how humans give meaning to their lives and to their futures by creating dreams. Without objectives and goals, life is a continual flow of days that have little meaning and aren’t worth living.