Impossibility of American DreamWhat do you think about Impossibility of American Dream in Of Mice and Men?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find it hard to believe that these bindle stiffs have much part in any so-called American Dream. I get a little tired of seeing these buzz words appearing over and over again in essays. They are space-fillers, cliches. They remind me of the word "Everyman." If a writer can't think of anything else to say, he will say that George Milton is Everyman. These men for the most part don't have any American Dream. They are just trying to stay alive. When they get together and talk, they talk about sports, current events, past experiences--never about any American Dream. George and Lennie may be exceptions. They would like to own their own little farm. That is no impossibility except for the fact that Lennie is a disaster waiting to happen. If George and Lennie had both been normal men, albeit uneducated and not especially intelligent, they could have bought a little place for less than a thousand dollars and lived there, as a lot of other people were doing during the Depression years. There would have been nothing especially dreamlike about such a life, but they might not have had to work quite so hard. Without a woman, their housekeeping would have been primitive and their food would have been pretty basic and unsavory. Having a cow does not solve a lot of problems. Subsistence farms only provide subsistence, meaning not much besides food, and food was very cheap in California in the Depression era. What could they have done in their spare time except to play checkers? Of Mice and Men is more about the exploitation of the working man than about the hopes of working men to become land owners. I agree with post #6.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Though I do think there are plenty of reasons to connect Of Mice and Mento the notion of the American Dream, I don't automatically like to read this book as a comment on the impossibility of the American Dream. 

Crooks, Candy and Curley's wife are the most thoroughly disenfranchised characters in the book. They have no power and there is little chance that they will ever be in a position to gain power over their own futures and their own lives in any sense that is meaningful. This state of being is directly connected to the economic power of each individual. 

We can take this set of circumstances to mean that the Dream has failed these characters, but I read the book as suggesting an exclusion, not a failure. Even George is excluded from a real chance at independence (financial/economic self-determination), and this is despite the fact that he has some moral power in the society of the book. 

Social mobility is not the monster. Believing in social mobility as a political virtue is not a vice. Rampant discrimination, scarcity of resources and a culture of fear and economic abuse - these are the monsters. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The American Dream is somewhat hypocritical.  It does not really apply to everyone.  Take Lennie for example.  George attempts to involve him in the dream by telling him they will have a rabbit farm, but there is no way Lennie could achieve it on his own.  The American Dream is really about independence.  It is about owning a house, having a job, and living your life your own way.  This is George and Lennie’s goal, but it is not something they can accomplish realistically as simple, poor, migrant farm hands. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a Socialist, John Steinbeck perceives the failure of Capitalism as responsible for the eradication of the American Dream for the masses, those itinerant workers and others involved in menial occupations.  It is only through a unity, a fraternity of men that the dream of ownership and advancement can occur as exemplfied by the possibility of owning a farm when Candy joins George and Lennie and, then, even Crooks is considered as a partner.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For some people the American Dream probably isn't going to happen. Of course, it depends on how you define the "dream." Guys like George and Lenny are probably never going to be able to live a life in their own home with a livelihood that they enjoy.

On the other hand, you could make the case that they were just about to achieve their own version of the "dream" when misfortune intervened.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the whole point of the book is that the American Dream isn't happening for anyone.  It's not by accident that the "misfortune intervened" as the previous post says.  Everyone has it bad, Steinbeck is saying.  No one achieves what they would have hoped for.

utkdmrz | Student

so can you give other examples about Impossibility of the American Dream in Of Mice and Men