After the two men arrive in Soledad outside the ranch where they will start work the next day, George and Lennie camp for the night. As George "stared morosely at the water," the reader gleans some insight into the loneliness of this character who has come to a town in Californian named after loneliness as well as the character of the child-like Lennie who cannot remember where they are going, but likes to pet mice. That Lennie is a burden to George is also apparent.
George complains to Lennie that he could have more fun without him, but when Lennie becomes hurt, George tells him he does not want him to leave,
No, you stay with me. Your Aunt Clara wouldn't like you running off by yourself, even if she is dead.
It is at this point that Lennie asks George to tell him "About the rabbits." Their dream is to have a ranch of their own:
George's voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhythmically as thoug he had said them many times before. 'Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place....With us it ain't like that. We got a future....Someday--we're gonna get the jack together and we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some pigs and....we'll have a big vegatable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we'll just say the hell with goin' to work, and we'll build up a fire in teh stove and set around it an'listen to the rain comin' down on the roof--
This dream is their escape from the cruel reality of being poor, itinerant workers during the Great Depression. This dream and their friendship is what sets them apart from the others; it is what gives them a greater sense of worth as they share both friendship and a dream.
In chaper one in the novel 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck, we see George and the friend he supports trying to get away from a big mistake learning-challenged Lennie has made. Yet again, they plan to move on fo find work on yet another ranch as many itinerant farm labourers did in the time of the Depression. Their big plan is to one day leave this nomadic day-to-day subsistence lifestyle behind by getting a little farmstead of their own. Lennie,like a child,can feed the animals and breed the rabbits! When Lennie gets worked up, George finds the repetition of this plan aloud to his friend seems to soothe him and calm him down.
It is not an unusual plan, but part of the general American psyche 'The American Dream' where the homesteading narrative motivates many hard working self-made men to achieve great things in order to have a land-owning idyllic lifestyle. This idea can also be seen in 'Death Of A Salesman' by Arthur Miller and in the writings of F Scott Fitzgerald. There are two links about this theme in literature: