Of Mice and Men – The American Dream

Of Mice and Guy– The American Dream

Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan mentions that, “in the state of nature mans life is nasty, brutish and short”. In depression era America, no greater reality might be said. There were millions jobless, largely unskilled and living on the margins of society. The most affordable of the low were the migrant labourers travelling from place to position attempting to scratch a living. They frequently had to take a trip unlawfully by freight cars and truck with all its consequent risks. Their life expectancy was low, crime was rampant and anguish was a fellow tourist. This is the setting of John Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Guys’.

The novel checks out the predatory nature of human presence. It checks out isolation, seclusion and relationship. A significant theme is that of the illusionary nature of Dreams’. In specific, The American Dream’.

To paraphrase Robert Burns-“The best laid plans of mice and men go awry”. This is a bleak declaration and it is at the centre of the book’s action. George and Lennie have the dream of owning their own ranch and living a totally free independent life; they would be self-reliant and most of all they would be safe from a harsh and hostile world. Other characters in the book likewise shop into their dream ie, Sweet and Scoundrels. Ultimately, the dream unravels and like a Greek Catastrophe, the ending is dreadful however also foreseeable.

Although there is catastrophe there-what Steinbeck appears to be saying is that the human spirit can and will endure despite enormous privations. The will to live and sustain will constantly conquer defeated hopes.

The Dream

The novel is an expose of the harsh and vicious truth of the American Dream’. George and Lennie are poor homeless migrant workers doomed to a life of roaming and toil. They will be mistreated and made use of; they remain in fact a design for all the marginalized poor of the world. Injustice has actually ended up being a lot of their world that they hardly ever discuss it. It belongs to their psyche. They do not anticipate to be dealt with any various no matter where they go.

George and Lennie reside in a helpless present however they somehow attempt to keep a foot in an idealized future. They dream of one day running their own ranch, safe and answerable to nobody. Others such as Curley’s better half imagine being a movie star, Crooks, of hoeing his own patch and Sweet’s number of acres’. The dream ends with the death of Lennie. George awakens to the realisation that the earthly paradise himself and Lennie dreamed of is illusionary.

At the end of the novel, George understands in his bones that for individuals like himself and Lennie there is no real hope of a much better life. It is a stark and bitter knowledge. There is no doubt that Steinbeck definitely knew about Social Darwinism and the’ survival of the fittest’. In this world the callous control the weak and the strong make it through to live another day. There is a Social Darwinist streak in the novel, the weak are dispensed with, and there is no justice for them. A comparable ruthlessness can also be seen in Jack London’s The Sea Wolf. Both novels portray a hellish presence where cruelty and viciousness reign.

The majority of the characters in the novel desire to alter their lives but they seem to be frozen in failure. One is reminded of a few of individuals in James Joyce’s Dubliners’. The character Slim differs from the others because he does not appear to want anything outside of what he has already. He has actually quit hopes of development, for him dreams cause despair. His strength is to endure. Things are not likely to get better but they can be challenged with courage and stoicism.


There is a sense of extensive loneliness and isolation in the book. Each character desires true and enduring relationship however will choose the short-term participations of ships that pass in the night’. They are all looking for some repaired stability in their lives. They are trying to find someone to recognize their mankind and provide a real identity that will not be based upon economic utility. They are helpless in their isolation-they requirement assistance however some look for to belittle and damage others in similar or worse situations.

Profound Truth

Oppression does not always originated from the strong and effective. In Steinbeck’s world, the weak prey on the weaker-for example, Curley’s wife threatens to have actually Crook’s lynched. What we can draw from incidents like this is that the strength to oppress others is itself born of weakness.

Economic Truth

There is no doubt that this book is a review of pure market industrialism. The alienation of the worker or the out of work is extremely apparent. The principles are pet eat pet dog’-a total absence of regard for the dignity of the human person. The struggle of Labour to regain its dignity is best exemplified in Steinbeck’s In Dubious Fight’.


1. A male only world

2. The Corrupting Power of Women

3. Isolation

4. The Human Spirit

Steinbeck has been criticized for lots of things including the development of a mans’ world where females take a secondary location. There is no doubt however that he was affected by the macho acting Hemingway in this regard. Ladies are searched as self-serving and or hazardous, the Femme Fatale precious of Movie Noir. They tempt guys to behave in methods they would otherwise refrain from doing, e.g.-Curley’s wife fulfils the dangerous flirt stereotype. Solitude is a repeating motif in the book. There is a terrific fear of being cast off-each character is searching for a pal. A less that obvious concept is that of the strength and resilience of the Human Spirit. A book of comparison here is Alan Sillitoe’s, The Loneliness of the Long Range Runner’.


1. The farm

2. A totally free picturesque life

3. Lennie’s pup

4. Candy’s pet dog

The farm is a seductive symbol. It seduces other characters and the reader. A complimentary idyllic life based upon self-reliance and protection from a hostile world. Lennie’s pup is symbolic of Lennie’s own weak point in the face of a tough intolerant world. The fate of Candy’s dog prefigures his own inevitable death and also the demise of the other cattle ranch hands: the fate that waits for anyone who has outlived his/her effectiveness, the strong dispose of the weak.

To end on this note would be to do the novel an injustice. The best ending is that of the author, in his Nobel Reward approval speech (1962 ), “The writer is handed over to celebrate man’s proven capacity for success of heart and spirit, for gallantry in defeat, for guts, compassion and love. In the limitless war against weak point and despair, these are the intense rally flags of hope and emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately think in the perfectibility of man has no dedication and no membership in literature.” With stoical endurance and nerve the human spirit will prevail.

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar