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In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, if Romanticism is defined as being imaginative and emphasizing feelings, George's description of the farm emphasizes the imagination of what the farm will look like and what they will grow for crops or raise rabbits for Lennie. George also describes the feeling of being a landowner and no longer leading the lonely life of the migrant worker. Owning the land will solve all the problems he and Lennie have which also plays into the idea of the land being the romantic Eden where nothing goes wrong and the two friends are both happy.
In Of Mice and Men, George repeatedly weaves the dream of the small farm that he and Lennie will buy when they have saved enough money. This highly romanticized farm, where the two will live "off the fat of the land," provides a contrast to the grim, uncertain life the men lead as itinerant farm workers. In reality, George and Lennie share a crude bunkhouse with other men and work long hours for low pay. They lack privacy and control over their lives. The farm they dream of contains everything they don't have in their current lives: the opportunity to take a day off, the ability to exclude from their company anyone they don't like, the possibility of putting down roots. As George puts it in one version of the dream:
George’s hands stopped working with the cards. His voice was growing warmer. “An’ we could have a few pigs. I could build a smoke house like the one gran’pa had, an’ when we kill a pig we can smoke the bacon and the hams, and make sausage an’ all like that. An’ when the salmon run up river we could catch a hundred of ‘em an’ salt ‘em down or smoke ‘em. ... Ever’ Sunday we’d kill a chicken or a rabbit. Maybe we’d have a cow or a goat, and the cream is so God damn thick you got to cut it with a knife and take it out with a spoon. ... We’d jus’ live there. We’d belong there. There wouldn’t be no more runnin’ round the country and gettin’ fed by a Jap cook. No, sir ... we’d have a little house an’ a room to ourself. Little fat iron stove, an’ in the winter we’d keep a fire goin’ in it. It ain’t enough land so we’d have to work too hard. Maybe six, seven hours a day. We wouldn’t have to buck no barley eleven hours a day. An’ when we put in a crop, why, we’d be there to take the crop up. We’d know what come of our planting.”
Steinbeck uses this idealized pastoral fantasy to highlight how far the reality of these men's lives during the Great Depression differed from the American dream of independence and autonomy. Sadly, the novel shows this dream to be out of reach for the men in the novel, in part because of the despair and alienation they feel.
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