The dreams of the characters in the narrative represent "the plans" and "promised joy" to which Burns alludes in his poem. Each of the major characters holds some type of dream that represents "promised joy" and "the plans" that drive them. For example, Lennie and George share the dream of owning the farm in which they are their own bosses, and one in which Lennie can "tend the rabbits." Curley's wife's dream is being in "pitchers," while Candy and Crooks each wish for a vision that is fundamentally different from the life they lead. In these realities, the characters in the narrative hold specific dreams and hopes for the future, visions whose "plans" represents a form of the "promised joy" that is intrinsic to their primary motivations.
The development of these plans and their collision with reality represent "the outcomes" that drive the narrative. Candy recognizes that his dreams will never be accomplished. In her desire to be admired, Curley's wife is killed. A moment's dalliance with companionship is dashed by reality for Crooks. George has to kill Lennie and commit himself to the idea that his dream is only that, an outcome that will never be validated by reality. The fierce collision and almost undercutting that reality features against the "plans" and "promised joy" of the individual is where the novel speaks loudest to the human predicament.