The Allegory Of Great Depression In Of Mice And Men

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

During the 1930s, thousands of Americans were going through extremely difficult times due to the Great Depression. The poverty rate was increasing rapidly, while the employment rate was plummeting. In this state of chaos and distress, people needed something to give them a sense of purpose. The American Dream was the idea that they could escape their impoverishment and live a glorious, fulfilling life. In the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck uses dialogue to display that the American Dream is alive, yet futile.

Steinbeck uses dialogue to show that the American Dream is alive. George describes their dream of a farm to Lennie, and how happy they will be together there. “ ‘Well, it’s ten acres,’ said George. ‘Got a little win’mill. Got a little shack on it, an’ a chicken run. Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries, apples, peaches, ‘cots, nuts, got a few berries. They’s a place for alfalfa and plenty water to flood it. They’s a pig pen–’ ” (Steinbeck 56-57). George and Lennie’s dream of owning a piece of land is prominent throughout the novel. The men discuss it often because it’s a source of motivation for them. Even in the darkest of times, the idea of living on a farm together drove George and Lennie to work their hardest and stay positive. The American Dream was a necessity for the men; it helped them handle the reality of their difficult lives. Without a common interest in mind, George and Lennie would not have a purpose in their life. They would have just been working mindlessly, which would eventually cause many issues.

However, Steinbeck also uses dialogue to show that the American Dream is doomed to fail. Although hopeful, many times the American Dream is unachievable. “ George said softly, ‘– I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we’d never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would.’ ” (Steinbeck 94). George and Lennie discussed this dream countless times and built it up to such a degree that even if they ended up buying land, their new lives would likely never live up to how they envisioned it. George even admits it to himself, saying that he knew from the start it would never work out. He knew it was impossible, yet they wanted it so badly, he convinced himself and Lennie it would happen. The fact that George and Lennie are trying so hard to reach a goal that is unfeasible for them is Steinbeck’s method of exhibiting how unachievable the American Dream is for many during the Great Depression. For migrant workers during the Great Depression, the American Dream was nothing but a mere illusion; something to give them hope, with no chance of ever happening. No matter how hard they fight or how much they want it, George and Lennie will never have their own place or their own lives outside of work. This shows how people can dedicate their entire lives to a single goal, yet not achieve the satisfaction of fulfilling it. As migrant workers during the Great Depression, it was nearly impossible to escape the cycle of laboring for others, receiving little money, and then using that money for their necessities. George and Lennie were so close, yet internally George was aware that his plan would not be achieved.

In summary, Steinbeck uses dialogue in Of Mice and Men to display how the American Dream was alive, yet unattainable for people like George and Lennie. Their dream served as motivation and gave purpose to their life, but it was purely fantasy. In reality, it will never be fulfilled because of the position the men are in as migrant workers. This same internal conflict occurred for an immense amount of other migrant workers during the Great Depression. Of Mice and Men highlights the struggles and sacrifices many Americans made in an attempt to reach their dreams.  

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