Explore the ways the theme of thwarted dreams and aspiration is developed in Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck incorporated the theme of thwarted dreams into his novella Of Mice and Men he is referring to Americans living life with all these dreams in their head believing they will achieve them. Americans, most of them want to be the best version of themselves like we do and aren’t afraid to show it. But Steinbeck gives us the realism of what happens to those dreams and the fate of the Americans at the time of the Great Depression who try hard to achieve those dreams in his novel Of Mice and Men. This is a book about two grown men George and Lennie wanting to have their own land and doing everything they can to make that happen, obstacles end up in their way, “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They belong in no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake and then they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.” This quote from George telling Lennie how guys like them work constantly got nothing to lose, just nobodies. “But not us! An’ why? Because . . . Because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.” George telling Lennie how guys like them are nothing, but they both got each other to live, to survive and achieve their dream of owning their own land. You realise how George doesn’t finish his words with the right pronunciation, he does this because he’s speaking faster, feeling more motivated and excited about making their dream happen one day as Lennie laughs with excitement because he too knows that the day will happen, they just can’t wait.
George and Lennie are into the ranch at this point knowing the place and a couple of workers who also joins their dream knowing their dream is almost there. They’re almost there from the money they’re saving to buy their land with Candy and Crooks who recently joined their pursuit to the dream. While Lennie was roaming he discovered Crooks’ room with him in there, like Lennie mentioning having their own ranch Crooks goes on a rant. “You’re nuts. I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a god damn one of ‘em ever gets it.” Crooks just gave Lennie a wakeup call making him realise he’s crazy for thinking their dream would come true, the realism is that plenty of people want to achieve their dream, But realistically it just doesn’t happen. Notice how just like George, Crooks also doesn’t end some of his words without the correct pronunciation? Because he’s ranting, going on, giving Lennie the realism, making him click that the dream won’t come true. Crooks wasn’t the only one who had doubt in George and Lennie’s dream, Curley’s wife did too. “Baloney, I seen too many you guys. If you had two bits in the worl’, why you’d be in getting’ two shots of corn with it and suckin’ the bottom of the glass. I know you guys.” Curley’s wife had so much doubt in them she brings metaphors into it. The part where she says “If you had two bits in the worl’, why you’d be in getting’ two shots of corn with it and suckin’ the bottom of the glass.” She’s trying to say if they do come to their dream they will be struggling with it, can only handle very little of it, probably would have to sell the place to make money making their dream pointless to achieve it in the first place. How is she so sure about it? She lives in a ranch where plenty of guys come and go, all with somewhat the same ambition. She “knows them guys.”
The main point is did George and Lennie along with Candy and Crooks achieve their dream? No, why? Lennie was shot by George having to put him down. “But not us! An’ why? Because . . . Because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.” It started with George and Lennie certain that their dream will come true because they look after each other, no one else to rely on but each other. “George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger.” It ended with George and Lennie in the same place they started having only each other to rely on. George shot Lennie in the back his head, dead at an instant. Ending the dream because they don’t have each other to rely on and achieve the dream together anymore.
Candy had no dream, but after his dog was put down he pretty much had nothing to lose. Hearing about George and Lennie’s dream he joins them, having the same ambition as they do. He joins because he has the money to make it happen and have a better life. “They’ll can me purty soon. Jus’ as soon as I can’t swamp out no bunk houses they’ll put me on the county. Maybe if I give you guys the money, you’ll let me hoe in the garden even after I ain’t no good at it. An’ I’ll wash dishes an’ little chicken stuff like that. But I’ll be on our own place, an’ I’ll be let to work on our own place.” After Candy’s offer George accepts it letting Candy join their party. He also joins George and Lennie because he’ll have nowhere to go after he gets fired. Yet this dream was cancelled even before Lennie’s death, Candy knew this by whispering to himself “I could of hoed in the garden and washed dishes for them guys.” By what Candy said you know he’s upset and disappointed because he could of, it was going to happen but not anymore, the pursuit for the dream he joined ended.
So why did this dream come to a stop? Everything was going as planned, Candy had the money, George and Lennie had the ambition, Crooks just wanted to be elsewhere. It ended because Lennie was shot, he was shot because he killed Curley’s wife and he couldn’t get away with it. “You stop it now, you’ll mess it all up.” She jerked her head sideways, and Lennie’s fingers closed on her hair and hung on. “Let go,” She cried. “You let go!” Lennie was in a panic. His face was contorted. She screamed then, and Lennie’s other hand closed over her mouth and nose.” By then Lennie panicked even more as Curley’s wife struggled trying her best to scream for help, then Lennie broke her neck. Curley’s wife started to panic before there was an actual problem, Lennie was just stroking her hair and didn’t want to let go he doesn’t know any better because of his “childlike personality.” She just got creped out, yelling “Let go!” startling Lennie he grabbed hold of her making a problem, accidentally killing her. That was the point where dreams changed for the men, everyone else finding out about the death of Curley’s wife George and Candy knew they can’t go on with Lennie.
Candy wasn’t the only one who joined George and Lennie’s dream, Crooks too joined their dream even though he had doubt in it. He only joined thinking it will actually happen when he found out Candy has the money for it “If you guys would want a hand to work for nothing just his keep, why I’d come an’ land a hand. I ain’t so crippled I can’t work like a son-of-a-bitch if I want to.” You can see that Crooks is desperate to join this dream, he’s willing to work for free, work for nothing. He also claims he ain’t as crippled as he looks, selling himself as a decent worker. Crooks just wants to get away from where he is.
Curley’s wife also had a dream. A dream where she was going to be a movie actress but that didn’t happen. “Nother time I met a guy, an’ he was in pitchers. Went out to the riverside dance palace with him. He says he was gonna put me in the movies. Says I was a natural. Soon’s he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write to me about it.” So she met a guy who said she was a natural which of course gives Curley’s wife ambition to go for it, he also said he’ll write back to her which gets her excited about this dream that will happen. “I never got that letter.” This is how we know that her dream didn’t happen, she never got that letter from the Hollywood man who supposedly wanted her to be in Hollywood, so she wouldn’t get a start to the dream. The language used has strong meaning to it, the word “Never” is a strong word that instantly gives us the idea that her dream never happened.
Steinbeck gave us examples of how people’s dreams never happen. Using words letting us know they don’t happen like “never, was, wont” Just basic words we use, words that the characters use in the story letting us know the dreams didn’t or won’t happen. Steinbeck had a simple use of language to give us the idea of his theme. He also made every character speak casually with small words like most of us do giving the true reality. Other than the language Steinbeck used characters with dreams as examples of his theme of thwarted dreams. Most people do go for their dreams, but often never happens. Some don’t even consider chasing their dreams because they know the reality.