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In Of Mice and Men, what does George and Lennie's dream of one day owning their own...

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misspynk | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 22, 2012 at 2:55 PM via web

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In Of Mice and Men, what does George and Lennie's dream of one day owning their own farm symbolize? 

If you have any examples to which I could refer for more understanding as well that would be extremely appriciated.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 22, 2012 at 4:01 PM (Answer #1)

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Living in the Great Depression, itinerant workers removed from community and family, George and Lennie have only each other as they work as "bindle stiffs."  Certainly, theirs is an existence that offers little future, little hope.  Therefore, their dream of one day owning a farm gives them a sort of heaven--a "reach that exceeds [their] grasp," to use the words of Robert Browning--that they can dream of and hope for.  When George and Lennie recite the words that describe their dream of one day owning a little farm with rabbits for Lennie to pet, it is as though they recite a prayer, for then they reach beyond themselves to a place where they will have a more secure life both socially and financially, a place where they will be content, without anxiety and conflict--their little heaven on earth.

Often when Lennie is uncomfortable or tense from some sort of conflict, he asks George to recite the words of their dream of owning a farm.  And, as often in many prayers, he joins in as though reciting a refrain and George's voice "grows deeper":

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world...They don't belong no place....With us it ain't like that.  We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us....Someday--we're gonna get the jack together and we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres....[Here Lennie joins in] an' live off the fatta the lan', An have rabbits."  (Ch. 1)

George and Lennie's dream is really no more than the American Dream of many at the time, a dream of ownership and identity in one place, a hope so terribly threatened by the Depression with its effects of poverty and disenfranchisement that it almost became a prayer. Thus, it symbolizes both the American Dream and the fraternity of men in which they are no longer in conflict with one another.

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