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Commentary on Of Mice and Men Essay


Of Mice and Men is a novel written by John Steinbeck during the late 1930s. During the creation of the text, the remnants of World War 1, and the Great Depression still lingered in Central America, and thus influenced greatly, the style of Steinbecks writing. The novels two main protagonists are Lennie and George, a pair of migrant workers who collaborate to achieve their dream, however, the essay will also include Crooks, a fellow worker at the ranch, as a third protagonist. The three focal themes of this essay are; Georges motivational drive, Lennies social disability and how he used a certain thought as a driving force, Crooks vision of equality between races? These three themes will be explored deeply throughout this essay.

It is often seen in the text, that George and Lennie are constantly referring to a dream ranch, where alfalfa patches are grown, and rabbits roam around freely. This concept of a dream ranch, an unfulfilled longing for happiness and contentment, was the driving force that gave Lennie and Georges life some reason for living. It was this idea that George would constantly refer back to at times of despair and unhappiness; Only a couple more months and we will have enough money for the ranch. The prize at the end of the rainbow, acted as a stimulus for their hard working attitude, and forced them to put their source of income as top priority. This is understood by the fact that they travel from town to town, ranch to ranch, trying to overcome Lennies lack of social development that always seems to get him into trouble. An example of one such instance is in Weed, where Lennie and George make a hasty departure after Lennie is accused of molesting a girl. Their drive and resolve to achieve what they believe is rightfully theirs is their motivational power, which later in the novel rubs off onto other characters.

Using this concept/dream of a possible ranch, George is able to control Lennie quite effectively. By threatening Lennie through not allowing him to have rabbits, George can manipulate Lennie to do his bidding. Lennies principal role in life, as far as he is concerned, is to work hard to get money for the ranch.

Another example in the text of how having a dream gives meaning to life, is perfectly demonstrated by Crooks, the black worker. Crooks has lived a life filled with persecution, oppression and exploitation. The sole reason for his hardship was due to his racial orientation. The fact that Crooks was a friendly person, who worked extremely hard on the ranch, was completely irrelevant, his skin colour was black and that was all there was to the story.

He is forced to live in a barn by himself and cannot join in any social activities with the other men, just like Lennie who cannot socially interact properly because of his social limitations. Cause Im black. They play cards in there, but I cant play because Im black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me (p.68). He is treated unfairly and therefore acts the same way toward the white people. Crooks says, A guy goes nuts if he aint got nobody. Dont make no difference who the guy is, longs hes with you (p.72-73). He secretly wishes for the day where prejudice against blacks is alleviated, and that the two races can live together in harmony and equality. It is perhaps this secret desire that serves as his motivating drive to put all of his oppression behind him, and look forward to the rewards that the future hold.

After reviewing the two different dreams between three different people, we are posed with the question, did having a dream actually give meaning to the lives of George, Lennie and Crooks? At the end of the novel, Lennie is killed by George, after Lennie accidently breaks Curleys wifes neck. It is left to the readers imagination what happens to George after Lennies death, but, it is not stated whether he ended up buying a ranch and settling down. Lennie is dead, and therefore never got to fulfil his dream of having an alfalfa patch and rabbits. It is assumed that Crooks remained on the ranch, serving as a slave to the uncompassionate boss. It is uncertain whether racial discrimination in California had been eliminated during his lifetime. So, out of three protagonists, none of them actually fulfilled their ambitions. Therefore was having a dream beneficial in any way to their quality of life? Yes, it had a profound impact on their way of life. Although none of the protagonists reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, in thinking that it was achievable, it made life just that little bit sweeter and gave a justification for all the hard work that they did. So, in conclusion, having a dream definitely gives meaning to life, as is seen in John Steinbecks novel, Of Mice and Men.

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