Explore some of the ways in which Steinbeck makes the dream of "livin' off the fatta the lan'" so revealing?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way that Steinbeck makes the dream of "livin' off the fatta the lan'" so revealing is through powerful detail.

In chapter 3, we understand the power of the dream that George and Lennie share.  Steinbeck includes details that are full of rich images that make the dream so revealing.  The depth of George's description in chapter 3 reveals the dream's power. 

As George starts to tell the dream, he is playing cards.  Steinbeck says that George "stopped working with the cards," which helps to bring a level of focus to the dream he is going to convey: 

An’ we could have a few pigs. I could build a smoke house like the one gran’pa had, an’ when we kill a pig we can smoke the bacon and the hams, and make sausage an’ all like that. An’ when the salmon run up river we could catch a hundred of ‘em an’ salt ‘em down or smoke ‘em. We could have them for breakfast. They ain’t nothing so nice as smoked salmon. When the fruit come in we could can it—and tomatoes, they’re easy to can. Ever’ Sunday we’d kill a chicken or a rabbit. Maybe we’d have a cow or a goat, and the cream is so God damn thick you got to cut it with a knife and take it out with a spoon.

For men who have so very little, the use of sensory based images is powerful. Steinbeck is able through sensory images to reveal how "livin' off the fatta the lan'" is so inspiring to George and Lennie. The dream represents what they want precisely because it consists of what they lack.  

Another way that Steinbeck reveals the allure of the dream is through its emphasis on freedom.  George and Lennie have no real power because they are migrant workers who move from ranch to ranch.  Yet, when George talks about the freedom involved in the dream, another aspect of the dream's power is revealed:  “An’ it’d be our own, an’ nobody could can us. If we don’t like a guy we can say, ‘Get the hell out,’ and by God he’s got to do it. An’ if a fren’ come along, why we’d have an extra bunk, an’ we’d say, ‘Why don’t you spen’ the night?’ an’ by God he would."  The sense of freedom's autonomy is another detail that helps to make the dream of "livin' off the fatta' the lan'" so revealing.

Read the study guide:
Of Mice and Men

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