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message of the dream Most characters in of Mice and Men seem to have a dream of their...

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matejluptak | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:50 PM via web

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message of the dream

Most characters in of Mice and Men seem to have a dream of their own, George and Lennie's dream being the most important of course. None of these dreams are achieved and it seems like Steinbeck's message in the novella is that dreams are meant to be dreamt, not achieved. How can you support this view, that the message of this writing is that the purpose of dreams is the dreaming and not their achievement?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 15, 2011 at 8:01 PM (Answer #2)

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Well, one central way you could argue this is to point towards the grim and rather depressing lives that are led by all of the principal characters. Perhaps dreams are necessary in order to help us survive the depressing reality of life. Even if those dreams are never fulfilled the actual act of dreaming them gives us hope to get through each day and that things might be improved somehow.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:16 PM (Answer #3)

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I don't think this is the message, though.  I think that Steinbeck is saying that society is crushing all these people's dreams.  I think he is saying that having dreams is part of the human condition and I think he is implying that a better society would not do so much to crush those dreams.

Otherwise, the dreams would just be a way of fooling ourselves -- an "opiate of the masses" that serve only to let us keep going in a harsh and pointless world.

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:59 AM (Answer #4)

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In a sense, Steinbeck does seem to emphasize that dreams are not meant to be achieved. George and Lennie have a dream of owning a home. That dream is never achieved. Candy joins in on George's and Lennie's dream, but he realizes by the end of the novel that his dream will not come true. Also, Curley's wife dreams of becoming an actress. Obviously, that dream never comes to past.

Steinbeck could be pointing out that some dreams are not realistic. There is a dream that is too big to achieve. Perhaps, Steinbeck is pointing out that dreams are just that--dreams and nothing more. Nonetheless, George and Lennie had a dream that helped them by having something with which to look forward.

I believe Steinbeck included the dream to give hope in a hopeless society.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 16, 2011 at 8:58 AM (Answer #5)

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I find myself agreeing with all of the posters. The novel took place during the Great Depression. This being said, many people's dreams were crushed by the state of the nation. I agree that Steinbeck could be saying that dreams are meant to stay dreams and not reach achievement. One way to interpret this is that dreams are meant to stick around and not come true based upon the fact that once a dream comes true what else is there to look forward to?

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted November 18, 2011 at 8:31 AM (Answer #6)

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I think that the dreams were not meant to be achieved, and we see flashes where the dreamers realise this. When George and Lennie first talk about their plan, George sends Lennie to sleep with the idea that they will have 'red rabbits and blue rabbits and green rabbits' - this suits Lennie's imagination, but does not suggest a realistic plan.

Curley's wife decides to marry Curley when the Hollywood director fails to whisk her away. Her movie career dream is a way of getting through the interminable dullness of life on the ranch.

The dreams are comforters, and maybe they do delude the charactes from the harsh reality of their lives.

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litlady33 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:42 AM (Answer #7)

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I'm not sure Steinbeck is simply saying that dreams cannot be achieved. More importantly, he is saying that they can't be achieved because humanity is so flawed that those dreams are always cut short for whatever reason. It is not the dreams he is criticizing but the problems of humanity that keep us from those dreams. George and Lennie would be able to achieve their dreams, possibly, if people were more accepting of the two. Lennie may not have gotten himself into the situation that he did if he had been understood and accepted by anyone other than George.

Crooks is a dreamer as well for the moment that he allows himself to be. However, because of humanity's flaws he cannot achieve those dreams. Racism keeps him from being able to do what he truly wants to do, so he must continue to live his lonely, isolated life.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted November 26, 2011 at 9:01 AM (Answer #8)

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While dreams fail to be realized, it is not because "the purpose of dreams is the dreaming and not their achievement." Rather Steinbeck's message is that society, in its then present state of decline and disorder, prevents dreams from being attained, or achieved. Steinbeck is lamenting the horrifically crippling effects of social deterioration on the ability of ordinary humans to live ordinary and productive and fulfilling lives embellished by ordinary aspirations and dreams; none of their dreams are extraordinary and out of the realm of possibility--during other eras in different circumstances. If you wish to prove something on this point, you will need to think seriously about changing your idea of "purpose" to an idea of "obstacle" or "prevention." If you can come to understand the history leading up to and during the time of the story, this will make more sense to you.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM (Answer #9)

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Robert Browning wrote, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp; else, what's a heaven for?"  Without something that is attainable in the future, there is no hope ("heaven").  During the Great Depression of the 1930s the American Dream died.  Hence, the term "Depression" arose; for,with the former possiblity of improving one's status in life, there was hope, and men did not feel so alone, so alienated.  Men need something always to "exceed their grasp"; they need hope for their future lives.  This is the message of the dream in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:11 AM (Answer #10)

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Robert Browning wrote, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp; else, what's a heaven for?"  Without something that is attainable in the future, there is no hope ("heaven").  During the Great Depression of the 1930s the American Dream died.  Hence, the term "Depression" arose; for,with the former possiblity of improving one's status in life, there was hope, and men did not feel so alone, so alienated.  Men need something always to "exceed their grasp"; they need hope for their future lives.  This is the message of the dream in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

It was not Byron but Robert Browning who wrote, in his dramatic monologue "Andrea del Sarto": "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, else, what's a heaven for?"

 

 

[fixed it, thanks!]

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