January 10, 2013
The American Dream
The American dream is the pursuit of happiness. Around the time of the Great Depression people dreamed of having jobs. In the book Of Mice and Men Lennie and George dream of owning their own ranch and working for themselves. Achieving the American dream is an impossible goal that often ends in tragedy as seen in the characters of Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
It is impossible for Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men to achieve the American dream. For example, it is clear Lennie is mentally handicap when he tells George he has “a dead mouse” (Steinbeck 5). “He pets a dead mouse that he has found because he likes the feel of its fur” (Steffens 55-56). This shows that Lennie cannot understand what is right and wrong and he cannot take care of himself or function on his own. For example, Lennie cannot control himself when George tells Lennie “I was jus’ playin’ with him… an’ he made like he’s gonna bite me… an’ I made like I was gonna smack him… an’….an’ I done it… An’ then he was dead.” “Though an innocent and not violent by nature, he has the potential for violence” (Telgen 246). This shows that even though Lennie does not mean to get in trouble he cannot help it because of all of the strength that he has. For example, it is clear that George cannot achieve it because Lennie is a burden when he tells Lennie “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl” (Steinbeck7). “George, for his part, complains regularly about having to take care of Lennie” (Telgen 248). This shows that he is unable to achieve the American dream because George is being held back by Lennie. For example George cannot achieve his dream when Lennie keeps making them lose their jobs when George tells Lennie “You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time. An’ that ain’t the worst. You get in trouble” ( Steinbeck 11). “They have been temporarily employed but where Lennie has gotten into trouble for scaring a young girl” (Attell 254). This shows that George cannot achieve his dream because while he is taking care of Lennie he keeps making them lose jobs. If Lennie was not retarded and George did not take care of Lennie they could have probably achieved their dreams.
Trying to achieve the American dream ends in tragedy for Lennie and George. For example, with the strength that Lennie has he cannot control it when the book states “And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck” (Steinbeck 91). “To pet her lovely hair he is panicked by the quick resistance, and ends by killing her. Just as he had earlier killed a puppy and a mouse” (Scarseth 258). This shows how Lennie is not able to control his strength and ends up killing things. For example, Lennie trying to achieve his dreams ends in tragedy when the book