In Steinbeck’s novella “Of Mice and Men”, he frequently refers to the American Dream, a fantasy beheld by the two main characters George and Lennie. It is nationally held belief, fuelled by one’s desire to have their own home and land, that hard work and commitment lead to success and the potential to have all that you could ever need or desire. However it is suggested in Steinbeck’s non-fiction, “America and Americans: Paradox and Dreams”, that he does not believe in this. Steinbeck refers to the American dream as an “illusion”, suggesting that it is unattainable.
The word illusion also has connotations of magic or tricks; this implies that Steinbeck thinks of the dream as a deception or ploy made by the United States to trap their natives in a sense of false contentment. Steinbeck states that “ never comes to the immigrants”, implying that the achievement of the dream is not really based on hard work and commitment, but who the individual is and whether the people with the power want them to succeed in life. The dream has been implemented by people with power, to manage where individuals such as “immigrants” and migrant workers are within the hierarchy of society.Order now
However the dream takes the blame away from the people with the power, and instead places it on the individuals themselves. The less successful in society are made to believe that they can achieve more when the actual fact is that they never will. This idea that the dream is unattainable is further advocated by George and Lennie’s occupations. Because they are migrant workers, they have a temporary lifestyle where work is unreliable and inconsistent. They “can’t keep a job and lose ever’ job get”. This lack of permanency makes it hard for them to be certain of getting the money required to fulfil their dream.
Lennie’s child-like mind compounds the unlikelihood of them achieving their dream, as he “lose ever’ job get”. Many of the believers of the American dream at that time will have been migrant workers, and the impossibility described above is as true for the real migrant workers of the time as it is for George and Lennie. Perhaps Steinbeck is highlighting how unlikely the American dream is through his portrayal of the characters to reflect how he thinks it is unfair that so many workers were led to believe it untruthfully.
Furthermore, Curley’s wife makes it more difficult for them to achieve their dream. This is made evident to the reader upon her introduction when George warns Lennie to stay away from her, saying “don’t you even look at that bitch”. An immediate judgement is made upon Curley’s wife by George, implying that if after a short conversation George feels so strongly against her, then it is almost certain that she will make something go wrong for them. The reader learns as Lennie does that Curley’s wife poses a threat to their dream, and forebodes that she will have a derogatory affect upon it.