How Does Steinbeck Explore the Ideas Surrounding the American Dream? Essay

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How does Steinbeck Explore the Ideas Surrounding the American Dream? Steinbeck presents the American Dream itself as the desire to own land and work for oneself. Other dreams quickly stem from this; the wishes to own animals, become famous and find companionship are all presented as character’s own American Dream. Throughout the novel, ideas surrounding the dream are explored in various ways. These include how the dream is used by characters to manipulate others and how the dream changes behaviour once it is realised. As well as this, the effect the dream has on social constructs and how characters react to accepting that the dream may forever remain unobtainable. George and Lennie are constantly journeying in search of their dream, they use the dream to manipulate one another and to encourage one another. This is seen right from the start of the novel, when, in order to stop Lennie nagging him about ketchup, George threatens him with the idea that his life would be “so easy” if he were alone. Very soon after this, Lennie responds to George’s anger by threatening to “go off” and “find a cave” to live in. The protagonists manipulate each other by threatening to jeopardize their ultimate shared dream of buying their own land. Both men know that this dream will never be realised without the other. Therefore, they constantly remind one another of this dream in order for them to remain at each other’s side. In this way, Steinbeck uses the idea of the American dream as a way of maintaining relationships between characters. The dream and the realisation of it alters the behaviours and emotions of the characters. This is demonstrated by Candy’s new found confidence towards Curley’s wife as he starts to believe that his dream has already come true. Instead of submitting to the woman, who clearly has more authority over him, “a change came over [him]” and he stands up to

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