What are the outcomes of the main characters in Of Mice and Men?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fundamental outcome of the main characters in Steinbeck's work is directly tied to their notion of dreams and realities.  Characters who live for dreams, or are animated by a notion of consciousness that is different from what is presented find a pain- ridden end, while those who do not seek to envision anything beyond what is the Status Quo are left alone and do not experience much in way of pain.  In this Steinbeck is making a statement about how dreams might involve pain, but they are still superior to the alternative, which is an existence that is not redemptive and filled with despair, either knowing or unknowing.  Lennie and George suffer greatly and are individuals who see themselves as agents of their own dreams.  Lennie ends up dying, and George is the one who takes his life.  Curley's wife dies, as well, with the last words on her lips about how she wished for something more in her life, while Candy recognizes that he should have advocated for his dead dog more as his dream slips past his reach with the death of Curley's wife.  For each of these people, the outcome of their existence tied to dreams was one of frustration and pain.  Their foils would be characters like Crooks, Curley, and Carlson, individuals who live their lives either without want of something more or recognizing the pain in wishing for it.  Their outcomes are not ones of pain or extended suffering, but rather a banal that numbs them to their reality.  It is this outcome that leaves Crooks knowing that he must embrace this life, for there will not be any other redemption for him and leave Carlson wondering at the end, "What got into those guys," lacking any sort of moral imagination.  While the outcome for those who dream is painful and pain ridden, Steinbeck might be suggesting that it is a better end for those who refuse to see what should be out of a reality of what is.

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Of Mice and Men

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