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Set in one of the most desperate of times, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men depicts the disenfranchisement and alienation of the itinerant workers who find themselves in the most basic of struggles to retain their human dignity. In order to find some meaning in their lives, these lonely men gather to themselves whatever they can: dogs, books, alarm clocks, guns, and dreams. These are the talismans of hope for the "bindle stiffs" who find themselves homeless and alone.
For George and Lennie--and, later, Candy and even Crooks--the dream of ownership provides a raison d'etre that gives their lives hope. Even the recitation of this dream encourages the men to continue working and struggling against their economic and social conditions. For instance, after reaching the clearing in Chapter One, Lennie asks George to recite their dream of owning a farm and raising rabbits:
"...we'll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we'll just say the hell with goin' to work, and we'll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an' listen to the rain comin' down on the roof..."
With this dream also comes another concept that affords hope, the friendship and fraternity of men. In Chapter One, George expresses the hope that friendship provides,
"We got a future. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot all anybody give a damn. But not us."
And, after George's reflection, Lennie finds solace in the knowledge that he has George as his friend,
"....because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why."
Moreover, when Candy learns of the future plans of George and Lennie, he perceives this ownership of a little farm as hope for a life when he is no longer useful on the ranch; with George and Lennie, he can belong somewhere and not be cast away much like his old dog.
"S'pose I went in with you guys. Tha's three hundered an' fifty bucks I'd put in. I ain't much good, but I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden some. How'd that be?"
Likewise, Crooks finds a glimmer of hope in the dream of the little farm as he contemplates,
"...If you...guys would want a hand to work for nothing--just his keep, why I'd come an' lend a hand. I ain't so crippled I can't work like a son-of-a-b---- if I want to."
Clearly, the dream of ownership and fraternity are what provide the disenfranchised and alienated "bindle stiffs" hope in Steinbeck's novella.
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