Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Futility of the American Dream

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry….” This line from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse” summarizes a central theme of this novel. The book begins with George and Lennie’s dream of one day tending their own land, yet almost immediately it becomes apparent that the men will never achieve this dream. Even though Candy offers to contribute his earnings as a down payment on a plot of land, the plan never gains steam. George has a tendency to spend his earnings on temporary thrills rather than to save for the long term. Despite all of their planning, the field hands’ dreams to own their own ranch and “live offa the fatta the lan’” are never realized. Similarly, Curley’s wife’s dream of becoming a famous actress is never fulfilled, and she appears destined to live the life of a housewife subjected to the whims of a belligerent husband. Crooks never mentions an American Dream, likely because he never had the luxury to dream. Although free, Crooks works a backbreaking job for meager compensation and has no viable way out of his impoverished situation.

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