In Of Mice and Men, is George Milton responsible for his dreams failing?

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Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" is the story of two friends, George Milton and Lennie Small, who wander about California in search of work during the Great Depression. After being forced to leave their farm because Lennie accidentally kills their puppy, they encounter several characters who try to help them achieve their dream of having a place of their own. These include Candy, an old ranch hand who helps them find work on a ranch; Crooks, a black stable buck who befriends Lennie; Curley, the wife-beating husband of one of the other workers' wives; and Slim, an older man who has been working on ranches for years.

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George has two differing dreams in Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men. On one hand he wishes he were free of Lennie and could take off on his own and not have to worry about Lennie losing him a job. This dream involves being able to do whatever he...

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wants without being Lennie's caretaker. In chapter one he says,

"God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cat house all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool.”

The reader may assume that George doesn't really want this. He could probably get rid of Lennie at any time, but they are friends and he feels a definite sense of loyalty to the mentally challenged man. 

George's second dream which includes Lennie, and later Candy, is to have a farm where he can raise his own crops and be his own boss. For George, this is an idyllic existence. He describes it several times in the book. In chapter three he says,

“Sure, we’d have a little house an’ a room to ourself. Little fat iron stove, an’ in the winter we’d keep a fire goin’ in it. It ain’t enough land so we’d have to work too hard. Maybe six, seven hours a day. We wouldn’t have to buck no barley eleven hours a day. An’ when we put in a crop, why, we’d be there to take the crop up. We’d know what come of our planting.” 

Once Candy joins George and Lennie the dream is within their grasps until Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife. This event, and Lennie's death at George's hands, is foreshadowed early in the book. Fate is against these men. No matter what they do or how hard they dream they are bound to fail. The title of the book comes from the Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse." Burns wrote: "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."

Steinbeck's philosophy in this novel, and in several of his novels (especially East of Eden), is deterministic. Free will and the ability to make their own future eludes these men. Their fate is determined from the description of Lennie's trouble with girl in the red dress in Weed. In the end George realizes they never had a chance as he tells Candy:

“—I think I knowed from the very first. I think I know’d we’d never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would.”

No matter what he would have done George could not change the ultimate outcome of his friendship with Lennie. There was never any chance of freedom or having that "little piece of land."

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