In Of Mice and Men, does John Steinbeck shows any hope or optimism about life? How are dreams crushed by reality?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story of George and Lennie is remarkable and disturbing for its ultimate lack of hope and optimism in regard to life as it is experienced in their world. They are poor and homeless in a land of plenty, clinging to a dream that will never be realized. They are hopeful of one day living a better life, owning a piece of land, and establishing a home for themselves, but the economic cards are stacked against them in a society in which they hold no status and exercise no power. This is the reality they cannot overcome, despite their efforts.

George and Lennie have worked hard at various jobs and saved what little money they can earn, but the dream remains just beyond realization. They just can't get there fast enough; circumstances (usually involving Lennie's disability) always intervene before they can succeed. By the conclusion of the novel, Lennie is dead and the dream dies with him. George survives, but he is now alone, without even the comfort of friendship to sustain him. Steinbeck leaves readers with no reason for optimism in regard to George's future. We are left, however, with respect for his courage, endurance, and humanity--qualities that his economic and social circumstances could not destroy. If there is any hope at all in the novel, it lies in the indestructible nature of the human spirit.


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Of Mice and Men

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