Discuss how hopes and dreams are important in Of Mice and Men.

Hopes and dreams are vitally important in Of Mice and Men in that just about every character in the book has them. They provide a means for the various characters to transcend the confines of a society in which prejudice towards the disabled, women, and people of color are widespread.

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Just about every character in Of Mice and Men has hopes and dreams of one kind or another. George and Lennie want to own their own ranch, a place where they’ll get to live off the fat of the land and have people work for them instead of the other...

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Just about every character in Of Mice and Men has hopes and dreams of one kind or another. George and Lennie want to own their own ranch, a place where they’ll get to live off the fat of the land and have people work for them instead of the other way round.

Candy wants in on the deal; a disabled man who’s not getting any younger, Candy’s afraid of being put out to pasture. Attaching himself to George and Lennie’s dream is the only way he can imagine escaping from his present predicament.

Crooks is also briefly enthused by the ranch idea. The only African American on the ranch, he’s treated like dirt, forced to do all the menial jobs and to occupy a run-down little shack away from the other men. Getting involved in a successful venture would give him back some of the dignity stolen from him by years of racial prejudice.

Curley’s wife has hopes and dreams, but they aren’t related to any ranch. In fact, she wants to get away from the ranch; she wants to be a Hollywood movie star. Though married to the boss’s daughter and in that sense quite privileged, she’s still a woman in what is a patriarchal society. Being a movie star would be ideal for her, as it would give her more freedom and independence than she currently enjoys.

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What keeps George and Lennie from despairing in their lives as migrant workers wandering from low-paying job to low-paying job is their dream of saving up enough money to buy a small farm.

This is the American dream of independence and home ownership. On the farm, which George describes as almost a paradise, Lennie can raise his own rabbits and the two can have a garden and live off the fat of the land. Unlike their lives as migrant workers, they can put down roots and be part of a stable community. They can take a day off if they want. They can invite who they want to visit and exclude people they don't like.

We see the potency of this dream in the way it attracts other ranch hands to want to join in—even Crooks, for a brief moment. They all see it as a way to achieve a dignity and autonomy that is sadly missing from their lives. It offers a goal other than frittering their low wages on women and drink.

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Nearly all of the characters in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men are driven by their hopes and dreams for a better future.

Here are some examples:

Lennie and George go to the West in order to move away from the Dust Bowl with the hope that they'll be able to work hard and find a place of their own.

For George and Lennie, they dream of buying their own little ranch where they can "have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some pigs." These dreams are infectious as both Candy and Crooks buy into George and Lennie's plan to buy their own ranch. 

Curley's wife maintains her sanity by remembering the dreams she had before she married. She believed she'd be "in the movies" and that she "was a natural." Her rotted dreams could be the reason why she maintains such an awful disposition to most of the men in the bunkhouse.

Unfortunately for these characters, many of these characters' hopes and dreams will never materialize, which is a vital part of what makes the book so tragic.

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Hopes and dreams are important parts to the characterizations in Steinbeck's work.  Each of the main characters is driven by their hopes and dreams.  They are important because they provide motivation and a sense of animation to each of their being.  When these hopes and dreams are gone, it becomes clear that a part of their humanity goes, also.

Lennie and George are driven by their hopes and dreams of owning a farm.  For Lennie, this immediately translates into "tending the rabbits."  For George, this becomes the idea that they can own "a piece of land" and control it for themselves.  Such hopes and dreams are important to George and Lennie because it provides motivation to them and helps them endure challenging times.  The ability to hope and dream is of vital importance to their being.

Hoping and dreaming is how Candy can be best described in his dreams of sharing in the hope of George and Lennie.  Candy is motivated by his sharing in their hopes and dreams.  Candy is broken when he finds Curley's wife's body because it marks the end of his dreams.  Interestingly enough, Curley's wife's death is caused, to an extent, by her own hoping and dreaming.  In detailing her dreams and potential chance at stardom to Lennie, she is encouraged to have him feel her hair, bringing about the fatality.  Candy's cursing of the corpse is a statement of how important hoping and dreaming is to the individual in Steinbeck's world.

In the end, characters in Steinbeck's novel are ones that find hoping and dreaming important.  When this ability to hope and dream goes away, some level of the characters' humanity goes with it.  In this, Steinbeck makes clear that individuals who lose the ability to hope and dream die a little bit from an emotional point of view.

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