Define the American Dream. What role does the American Dream play in Of Mice and Men?

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The American Dream is the belief that one can attain financial security, climb the social ladder, and amass wealth through sufficient hard work and perseverance. The novella is set during the Depression, which was the worst economic crisis in the history of the industrialized world, taking place between 1929 and 1939. For migrant workers like Lennie and George, their fantasy of one day owning a piece of property where they can "live off the fatta the lan'" is their idea of the American Dream. Despite being futile and impossible to attain, the American Dream offers the poor, lowly migrant workers hope for a better life. The concept of the American Dream motivates some workers to save their money and gives Lennie, George, Candy, and even Crooks hope that they will one day own an estate. The dream of financial security and owning property not only motivates the workers to continue laboring but also provides them a brief respite from their difficult lives. Tragically, Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, and George and Candy discover the unattainability of the American Dream, a reality which Crooks already knew. In chapter four, Crooks makes an accurate comment about the American Dream when he tells Candy,

I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. (Steinbeck, 36)

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In the 1930's, the setting of Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Menthe American Dream was defined as the opportunity to work hard and achieve the socio-economic level that a person seeks.

According to James Truslow Adams, who coined the phrase "American Dream" in 1931, the American Dream is simply for everyone to have equal opportunity to live a better and more prosperous life. []

For the bindle stiffs of Steinbeck's narrative, the American Dream is simply to have a home and a good job that will provide financial comfort. Financial security is certainly a real dream during the Depression when men must  try to find jobs and meals each day, sometimes, or at least move from job to job.
The dream of owning a small farm with rabbits and gardens is clearly the hope for security and happiness for Lennie and George. This hope that the American Dream offers is what keeps them and others working and saving money in the hope of attaining certain goals.

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