In chapter 6, what is the significance of Lennie's dream about Aunt Clara and the rabbit?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Chapter 6 of Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses the dream sequence to give Lennie some depth of character.  The dream functions as a kind of soliloquy, for the reader could not know what Lennie is thinking otherwise.

The dream presents Lennie's great fears: first disappointing Clara and George and then being abandoned by them.  Clara turns into a giant rabbit and tells Lennie that he isn't worthy to tend them on the dream ranch.  The rabbit also tells him that George is going to hurt and leave him.  All of this, more or less, will come true.

The rabbit is an example of Steinbeck's anthropomorphism (attributing human qualities to an animal).  It is obviously an omen that foreshadows Lennie's death.  He almost sees it coming, though he never suspects it when awake.  The rabbit is a symbol that the American dream is an illusion, that it is destined to tempt guys like George and Lennie.  Subconsciously they know that the dream ranch was only a romantic ideal; it could never have worked out.

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