Of Mice and Men shows how there were a shortage of work and describe the lives of two itinerant workers, George and Lennie.
George and lennie are the two main characters in the book, and showed the relationship between the two friends. George was small and restless; he had a dark face with restless eyes and sharp strong features. He was bright, quick and clever who looks after the mentally disabled strong Lennie. Lennie has a childs mind and is very childlike by wanting to feel soft things. His body is immensely strong and has never learnt how to control his body strength. He is described in terms of an animal because of his strength dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paw.
George and Lennie are both workers, moving from ranch-to-ranch searching for jobs in Soledad, which is the Spanish for lonely. In spite of this each worker has a dream. George and lennie like all workers have had a dream too, to live off the fatta the lan, George and Lennies dream was to have a farm and then to do their own thing were no-one can allow to push them around or tell them what to do. All men had a dream similar to this, to own a piece of land of there own, this was something on all workers mind, which kept them going. However the novella ends in tragedy.
Steinbeck introduces the main characters, George and Lennie early in the book. It is Friday evening and they are on their way to the ranch in Soledad. When the bus driver drops them off, he doesnt really care. They are shown as victims of society from the beginning of the book, where George and Lennie wanted to be dropped off at the ranch were the bus driver then made them walk ten miles when he said the bus doesnt go round that end, and while the were walking the saw the bus go by which made George very mad. Steinbeck writes that two men emerged from the path and came to the green pool this is the pool of the Salinas River where the novel starts and ends. The two men are described as complete opposites. Lennie was a big man, but had a mind of a child, which he was mentally disabled.
George is like a father to him, George expresses Steinbecks attitude towards Lennie as a compassionate and sympathetic person. George and Lennies relationship is of friendship and dependence, although they both depend of each other; it seems at first as if Lennie totally depends on George, this is shown when Lennie panics because he thinks he has lost his work card and his bus tickets he says: George, I aint got mine, I musta lost it where as there relationship is like a parents child relationship. Through the first paragraph George starts telling Lennie about the future and what they want. He tells Lennie in a child like way of that they want to live off the fatta the lan, with a garden and were Lennie can tend the rabbits. Lennie likes hearing this; its like a favorite story where he knows all the words off by heart.
In Of Mice and Men Steinbeck explores the idea of the American dream. This idea is still prevalent today where people still have a dream, to do something and it basically means that anybody can make it big in America. This is based on equality and independence and put forward the idea that everybody can get rich, is free and equal regardless of religion, race or country of origin, and also the American dream promises the freedom from persecution.
In order to achieve the dream, you have to work hard. Each character had a dream:
Curleys dream was to just be stronger than anyone. Which he shows his aggressive behavior towards those weaker than himself.
Curleys wife wants to be a film star, which her dream cant happen as she is married to Curley where he doesnt allow her to do or speak to anyone apart from himself. It shows that the marriage has failed, maybe, as he cant satisfy her emotionally or physically. Due to her loneliness she trys to seek attention with other men and cant escape from the sexual image of what other men have of her. Because of the circumstances of her own isolation she therefore cultivates this image as a means of getting noticed, to talk to someone.
Candy wants to work on his own land and no one to push him around.
Crooks is the only black person on the ranch his dream was also to have his own ranch and no one to tell him what to do and to have no racist comments.
So for the ranch workers to get this life they will have to work very hard.
However for George and Lennie the dream could only ever be a dream. They want to believe in its reality but it is only ever wishful thinking. George and Lennies dream is all to do with having freedom, to not have to be canned to not work on days they didnt want to. They wanted to work in a place and live in a place that is cosy and have of food. And Lennies dream is to live off the fatta the lan and tend rabbits and other creatures and have a comfortable, rich life where they can have there own independence, but Lennie is volatile, violent, huge and strong. Lennie constantly gets them into trouble, for example: we are first introduced George and Lennie when they flee from weed. Where Lennie was accused of rape but really didnt do anything, as he only grabbed the ladies dress to feel the softness of it.
There are number of things to suggest the dream is only ever fantasy. Another thing to support this is that they wanted to re-create happier times when they were younger and part of a family Lennie describes his childhood with aunt Clara¦I remember a lady, she gave we mice. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck shows how the badly the workers were treated in the Great Depression they were at mercy of cruel bosses, which in this state in the book was Curley as he was the bosss son. One key aspect of their dream is that George and Lennie fantasize about better working condition of not getting canned.
One thing Steinbeck explains is the basic needs of companionship, loyalty and having something to look forward to, as without any hope of doing something theres nothing to look forward to, and nothing to live for.
The notion of all the characters in the novella being lonely victims is emphasized. They all have dreams one character in the book is Candy, he is a nice fella, he had lost his right hand in a farm accident and is reduced work of a ranchswamper. Candy has a dog that he is devoted to. The other ranch worker despite the dog, as he is old and smells very bad, so they confront Candy to let it out of his misery by shooting the dog, this illustrates the harshness of the relationships and the environment of which Steinbeck describes. It also predicts the end of the novel
It is only because of Candys offer to join George and Lennie in their dream to buy a ranch that it becomes a possibility of fulfilling their dream. As he said spose I went in with you guys.
They fell into a silence. They looked at on another, amazed. This thing they had never really believed in was coming true.
Steinbecks portrayal of Lennie is always compassionate but realistic. He is described in terms of an animal because of his strength. Lennie dabbled his paw He shows a victim of mental disabilities who cannot cope in harsh, unfriendly world. The society of the 1930s did not make allowance for the mentally ill.
George cares for Lennie but is manipulated by him. Lennie has a huge amount of strength and cannot control himself. He has a tendency to panic, which creates a problem like when he broke Curleys arm as he was trying to struggle out Lennie held on tighter. Lennie never leaves a sight off George but when he is away he tend to get into trouble. Lennie is cunning and aware of this in another sense, and does not and cannot learn from his mistakes and is victim.
Another time where he panics was the killing of Curleys wife he didnt mean it he just wanted to feel her hair, he is also selfish in ways as he ended up killing her as she was screaming, and all because that George may tell him off and not let him tend the rabbits.
In conclusion the only person who achieves their dream is Lennie, as he dies thinking about their dream where George was reciting it to him at the Salinas River, before he dies knowing that the dream was in his mind.
Steinbeck successfully shows the working life of that time and the dreams, of what everyone wanted to be to have a rich, and relaxed life, which people still have that dream today. Steinbecks sympathy and compassion for the characters, evident his storytelling is on their side.
The title Of mice and Men links to the poem To a Mouse by Robert burns, he said ¦the best laid schemes o mice and men, gang aft agley. And means no matter how well we may plan the future things often go wrong. And this is where Steinbeck chose this as a title.
Steinbecks style is very good and adapts to his subject matter, imagery and dialogue. He tells this story in a convincing way without explaining in detail why everything happened and that it was nobodys fault in particular events and why they turned out as they did.