The American Dream

  • George and Lennie are just two of a vast number of Americans who had a great dream of owning land and being successful.
  • Their current life gives them little hope and they are isolated, lonely figures.
  • They look after each other and hope they will own a ranch together and live off the land.
  • For Lennie the dream involves the child-like desire to have some rabbits as pets.
  • The novel seems to end on a negative note, with everyone worried that the death of Curley’s wife represents the shattering of their dreams.

Most of the characters admit, at one point or another, to dreaming of a different life.

  • Before her death, Curley’s wife confesses her desire to be a movie star.
  • Crooks, bitter as he is, allows himself the pleasant fantasy of hoeing a patch of garden on Lennie’s farm one day, and Candy latches on desperately to George’s vision of owning a couple of acres.

Before the action of the story begins, circumstances have robbed most of the characters of these wishes. Curley’s wife, for instance, has resigned herself to an unfulfilling marriage. What makes all of these dreams typically American is that the dreamers wish for untarnished happiness, for the freedom to follow their own desires. George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm, which would enable them to sustain themselves, and, most important, offer them protection from an inhospitable world, represents a prototypically American ideal. Their journey, which awakens George to the impossibility of this dream, sadly proves that the bitter Crooks is right: such paradises of freedom, contentment, and safety are not to be found in this world.

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