In the novella Of Mice of Men, why are the characters' reactions to the dream of the future farm so revealing?

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mdelmuro | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie have a dream of owning their own ranch where they'll "have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some pigs and" live off the "fatta the lan'." This dream symbolizes the hope of all the immigrants in this novella. However, the dream of becoming a success by owning some land is a chimera. It is something that keeps the men going, but will probably never happen. For George and Lennie, going to California was supposed to be the start of a new life with abundant opportunities, but in the end, it was where their dreams go to die.

To both Candy and Crooks, this place George and Lennie describe makes them want to be part of it. In Chapter 2, George goes into more detail about this place and says he knows an "ol' lady" who "needs an operation." Candy immediately wants to be a part of the plan and says, "S'pose I went in with you guys. Tha's three hundred an' fifth bucks I'd put in. I ain't much good, but I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden some." In Chapter 3, Crooks initially has a negative take on the idea of the ranch saying, "I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their backs an' that same damn thing in their heads." Eventually, he comes to want to be a part of this dream after Candy says they have the money. He says, "...If you...guys would want a hand to work for nothing—just his keep, why I'd come and lend a hand."

By the end of Chapter 3, Crooks decides the dream is just a silly one and he tells Candy to forget it. This is important because it shows how the dreams of these men are generally nothing but that, dreams. When Crooks says he wants to join the men at this hypothetical ranch, it's after Lennie and Candy have a conversation with him making him feel like an actual man, not the crippled black man. But after Curley's wife dehumanizes Crooks and threatens him with a lynching, his brief moments of feeling like an ordinary man vanish. So too does his dream of working on a ranch owned by George and Lennie.

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