Of Mice and Men and the American Dream Essay

746 Words3 Pages
John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men is often considered a classic work of American literature – its gritty realism stuck a chord with critics and readers during the Great Depression in which the novel takes place, and with its strong imagery yet accessible prose, it tackled many of the same themes that would later appear in Steinbeck’s famed novel The Grapes of Wrath, particularly the impossibility of and disillusionment with the “American Dream”. The majority of the characters in Of Mice and Men express a desire to chase the alusive American Dream. The focal point of the story is George and Lennie's desire to have a piece of property that is all their own and to "live off the fatta the lan". (15). They build their dream up to such an extent that even if they managed to "roll up a stake" and buy a piece of land, their lives there would likely have never lived up to the ideal they envisioned in their heads (58). In fact, George admits that their dream was destined to fail -- "I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her," he remarks. "[Lennie] usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would." (90). Other characters in the story, like Candy and Crooks (who both latch on to George and Lennie's fantasy), have worked hard their entire lives but have gotten nowhere and are forced to be content with simply having a roof over their heads and three meals a day, though those privileges may be revoked at any time once the men are no longer deemed useful, as is indicated by the "mercy" killing of Candy's old and crippled dog. The characters’ very act of striving for the impossible is Steinbeck's way of showing how unattainable the American Dream had become for many Americans during the Great Depression. While a century prior it seemed anyone could come to America, work hard, and see a tangible gain, Of Mice and Men clearly
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