The book is based around the American Dream, this idea that America was a solution to all the worlds problems; a country of prosperity and equality and fertility, but leading on from the American Dream follows the idea of Lennies dream, which is almost the backbone of the book, in the same way that it becomes the backbone of many of the characters existence. The Dream in the book is likened to the idea of heaven. The idyllic setting, the peace and the quiet are all huge contrasts to life at that time. The Dream from the very beginning is almost set out to be unattainable.
Crooks, in chapter 4 states that nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land which is important in showing the way that for men on the ranch, for people whose lives are tainted by monotony, the idea of The Dream seems like a really far fetched notion. The Dream is something that is a beacon of hope to the men on the ranch and if it wasnt for the character of Lennie, none of the other men would have believed in it being a possible reality. The belief in The Dream stems from Lennies conviction in it, and this shows how childlike it is in its existence.
The Dream is never attained by any of the characters, except perhaps by Lennie, because The Dream is his heaven. The Dream in the book in important in showing a contrast to life on the ranch, showing how hope can get people further, but ultimately what it shows is reality always wins; that no matter how much you believe and hope, the average man cannot attain something that is purely fantasy. This pessimistic view on faith and hope from Steinbeck shows how at the time, the people had very little to be optimistic towards and practically nothing to be hopeful for.
The Dream in the opposite way is used not to define reality, but to mask it. The main example of this is Georges recital of The Dream at the end of the novel when he shoots Lennie. George hides Lennies fate from him by keeping him happy with the typical idea of The Dream, almost to pacify Lennie. In another way, The Dream is used to mask Candys reality. Candy knows his fate; that he will ultimately be canned, but the dream is a way of him avoiding the truth. He puts everything he has left, his money, his effort and his time into The Dream and this is his way of avoiding the bitter truth of reality.
Even Crooks, who as a character is alienation personified, is momentarily taken aback by the possibility of achieving something he, as a pessimistic character claims to be impossible. Hes both black and disabled, making him somewhat of a leper on the farm, and due to the way he has been treated and abused by society he has no faith in something like The Dream, however he too gets caught up in the excitement of it because it masks his awful reality so well that he can almost picture himself away from it all.
Again though, Curleys wife kills The Dream; she abuses Crooks and shows him that in a white world, he has no place as a black man. This behaviour is what makes the character of Crooks snap out of the idyllic life he had imagined, it shows him reality, which in turn shows how easily the possibility of something better can get even the most bitter of people believing in something better than what they have.
The Dream presents itself as reality in a way; it seems attainable throughout the majority of the book, however it really is only a cover for the reality, and in the end, much like the American Dream, nothing more than an illusion that preys on the weak and the lonely and fills them with false hope. The idea of dreams in the book is an important one, theres one main dream, and then sub dreams, like Curleys wifes dream of being a film star.
Hers seems like a ridiculous notion and that dream is important in making the main dream seem like more of a possibility. Steinbeck leads the characters and the readers on; he makes it seem like the book will have a happy ending, that the characters will be the rare few to break free from the tedium of their lives to create something better for themselves. This is why The Dream is important, it shows maybe not a pessimistic view of life at the time, but a more realistic view; of how dreaming was out of the question when the economic climate was so terrible.
What dreams do in the book is alter the characters perceptions of reality, or make them more susceptible to hoping and wishing. Dreams are important in showing the contrast to real life in the time; dreams in the book show that people never get what they want, no matter how badly they want it. In a way dreams also show that money and status are what fuels society and that hoping and dreaming is almost redundant in a world where life runs on wealth and power.
Characters like Curley personify that, they show how money and breeding will your further in life, and how the average man like George, the mentally challenged like Lennie or the physically disabled like Candy or Crooks will not get as far in life because they dont have their pedigree to carry them forward, all they have is conviction in what will ultimately be impossible because of that very reason; that they are just the run of the mill person, they are no one special, no one important, and therefore almost have no right to be the ones to change who they or what they have in society and have no reason to aim for a better life than the one theyre given. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.