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It's the 1930's. The segregation and separation between United States denizens was incredible. Despite the numerous racial, religious, etc. barriers that get in the way of daily life, everyone respected a hard worker. In old times, if you wanted to succeed, you worked hard to accomplish your goals.
When you worked hard for your goals, were determined, and took initiative, the common belief of the time was that you were pursuing The American Dream. For some, this dream did come as a result of their persistence, whereas others were less fortunate and never reached their dream.
In "Of Mice and Men" written by John Steinbeck, two characters are introduced named George and Lennie. Right off the bat it becomes evident that George is the average worker whereas his partner Lennie is rather dumb. The two speak of a ranch they are headed to for work while the setting has "an ash pile made by many fires; [a] limb worn smooth by men who have sat on it" (Steinbeck). Therefore, the reader learns from their conversation and the description of the setting that the two are pursuing The American Dream, and are following a path which many others before them took, likely with the same dream.
Upon arrival at the ranch, George and Lennie are still constantly talking about their dream to "'live off the fatta the lan'" (Steinbeck). They meet numerous characters including an old (one-handed) man named Candy. After meeting Candy, he soon comes to symbolize the disillusionment of the ever so hopeful dream George and Lennie have.
What is George and Lennie's dream exactly? Multiple times throughout the book so far George and Lennie have referenced their own ranch which they hope to achieve through the hard work they put in working at other people's ranches. On this dream ranch they envision themselves working and living for themselves in unity, as well as having plenty of rabbits for Lennie.
“'I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail'"-George to Lennie (Steinbeck).
How do Candy and his dog represent the disillusionment of The American Dream (specifically George and Lennie's?). Basically, Candy's old dog symbolizes the dream he has had that working hard at the ranch will someday get him his own place. Candy states in relation to a fellow wanting to kill his longtime companion “I’m so used to him...''I had him from a pup'" (Steinbeck). Often times when someone has a dream they dearly want, it is not easy to accept the fact that it won't work out as planned. In Candy's situation, he does not want to accept the fact that his dog is useless and a lost cause and needs to be put to an end once and for all, just like the hopes he has to accomplish his dream. Overall Candy can be compared to the disillusionment of George and Lennie's dream because the loss of his hand was a key reason in which his dream came to and end, (as stated the dog shows this symbolically) as is Lennie's slowness to George and Lennie's dream.
A new hope emerges for multiple sets of dreams when Candy says to George "'I’d make a will an’ leave my share to you guys...'" (Steinbeck). All of a sudden the dream of their own place that George "never really believed...was coming true" (Steinbeck). Due to Candy genially offering to share his will with the pair, not only has George and Lennie's dream reached new heights of reality, but Candy's has been reimbursed as well. In the end though, yes The American Dream serves as a disillusionment for many throughout the course of history and even in "Of Mice And Men." It often serves as a disillusion for reasons such as becoming crippled, old age, not enough money, or someone not working hard enough as portrayed through the different characters and motives in "Of Mice And Men."
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