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Dreams, Hopes and Plans Quotes
Dreams, Hopes and Plans Quotes
"I remember about the rabbits, George." "The hell with the rabbits. That’s all you can ever remember is them rabbits." (1.18-19)
This is the first mention we have of the dream. Even from the introduction, it seems Lennie is more excited than George about the prospect. George’s easy dismissal of "them rabbits" makes it seem as though he thinks the whole thing is silly. This will get more complex as we realize that George might be as excited about the dream as Lennie; it seems he is just more cautious about that excitement, given that he’s more world-weary than his companion.
"Well, we ain’t got any," George exploded. "Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want. 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 cathouse 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." Lennie knelt and looked over the fire at the angry George. And Lennie’s face was drawn in with terror. "An’ whatta I got," George went on furiously. "I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time." (1.89)
George explodes at Lennie and rattles off what he imagines to be the dream-life of a traveling worker without any burdens (like Lennie). George envisions a carefree life and is careful to emphasize that Lennie is the roadblock. What George outlines for himself here is strangely prophetic, given what will come to him later in the story.
GEORGE "O.K. 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—"
This kernel is one of the foundational pieces of the whole play, perhaps its most important. There are numerous bits to analyze in this passage, ranging from its reflection of the American Dream during the Depression to the fact that the dream is so repeated among the two men that even dull Lennie has memorized some of it. For our purposes, it’s very important that this talk of the farm oscillates wildly throughout the play – it seems like the farm is a dream to George, a hope for Lennie, and (eventually) even a plan for Candy. It’s especially interesting that sometimes it seems the farm is the dream that keeps them going, and sometimes it is just a reminder of the futility of dreaming.
[Crooks] hesitated. "… If you … guys would want a hand to work for nothing—just his keep, why I’d come an’ lend a hand. I ain’t so crippled I can’t work like a son-of-a-bitch if I want to." (4.88)
Dreams are almost infectious. Even Crooks, whom we’ve only come to know for his nay-saying up to now, seems ready to believe. It’s at this point we feel like this thing is really going to happen – or that it might just be too good to be true.
"With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us." Lennie broke in. "But not us! An’ why? Because… because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why." He laughed delightedly. "Go on now, George!" (1.113-116)
This is a pretty timeless definition of friendship: somebody to listen, somebody to bail you out of jail, and most importantly, somebody that cares and looks out for you. It’s notable, too, that though George is the one who usually gives the speech, he’s clearly worked in the fact that both men rely on and look after each other. Again, George is a friend (and not a father or a master) because he is so willing to admit that he needs Lennie too.
"Well-hell! I had him so long. Had him since he was a pup. I herded sheep with him." He said proudly, "You wouldn’t think it to look at him now, but he was the best damn sheep dog I ever seen." (3.56)
This entire passage with Candy and his relationship to his dog is incredibly important. Candy has the same feelings toward his dog that George has toward Lennie. (This isn’t to degrade Lennie or elevate the dog, but it’s a comment on the nature of friendship and the love that comes with it.) Candy loves the dog though he smells, George loves Lennie though he’s not too bright and accidentally kills things. When asked to justify their friendships, both men simply say they’ve gotten used to being with their companion.
Crooks scowled, but Lennie’s disarming smile defeated him. "Come on in and set a while," Crooks said. "’Long as you won’t get out and leave me alone, you might as well set down." His tone was a little more friendly. (4.22)
Lennie has gotten Crooks to soften up a little. Likely, Crooks is cracked a bit by Lennie’s innocence, but no matter the reason, it’s always a little flattering to have someone try and be your friend. Lennie seems to be refreshingly open.
"But I wouldn’t eat none, George. I’d leave it all for you. You could cover your beans with it and I wouldn’t touch none of it.“ (Lennie)
“We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.” (George)
“Because… because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after
“We kinda look after each other.” (George)
“Got kinda used to each other after a little while.” (George)
“even in the open one stayed behind the other”
“Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly.”
“Lennie obeyed him.”
LENNIE "If you don’ want me I can g off in the hills an’ find a cave. I can go away any time." GEORGE "No—look! I was jus’ foolin’, Lennie. ’Cause I want you to stay with me." (1.103-104)
Once Lennie seems ready to leave George alone (whether he actually is or not), George finally comes around to admitting that he needs Lennie. It seems he has realized that isolation simply isn’t worth it.
BOSS "I said what stake you got in this guy? You takin’ his pay away from him?" GEORGE "No, ‘course I ain’t. Why you think I’m sellin’ him out?" BOSS "Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is." (2.45-47)
The boss immediately suspects George is taking advantage of Lennie. In this transient worker culture, with men wandering around and generally suffering under the Depression, the boss can’t imagine a situation where two guys would stick together, just because. Though it’s a bit preposterous, to the boss it’s more believable that this tiny guy would be taking advantage of this much bigger guy than that the two could really just look out for each other. The boss, like any one else familiar with ranch work during the Depression, expects isolation as the status quo.
Slim looked through George and beyond him. "Ain’t many guys travel around together," he mused. "I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other." (2.179)
It’s really interesting that this comment comes from Slim. Of course, it characterizes how all those people drifting in poverty across the country and looking for work are feeling, but Slim’s the ranch’s own local megastar. He, who can do no wrong, intimidate any man, and kill a fly with a bull whip, seems to have the same feelings as everybody else about the whole world. It’s a lonely and scary place.
GEORGE "I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain’t no good. They don’t have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin’ to fight all the
”Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world”
“We gota future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a dam about us”
“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.”
“A guy on a ranch don’t never listen nor he don’t ast no questions.”
“Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys.”
“Aint many guy travel around together”
“Maybe ever' body in the whole damn world is scared of each other”
“Hardly none of the guys ever travel together”
Isolation seems to make men return to their basest instincts – fighting to survive. It seems companionship is the only thing that can keep men civilized, and ranches full of lonely guys tend not to be that civilized.
Prejudice and Discrimination
Curley’s Wife: “Listen Nigger, You know what I can do to you if you open your trap.”
Against mental disabilities:
“If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are, we won’t get no job,” (George)
“They let the nigger come in that night.”
“I ain’t wanted in the bunk house, and you ain’t wanted in my room.”
“Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny,” (Curley’s Wife)
"Guys don’t come into a colored man’s room very much.” ( Crooks)
“And a manure pile under the window. Sure it’s swell.” (Crooks)
“I seen ‘em poison before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her.” (George)
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
The Predatory Nature of Human Existence
Of Mice and Men teaches a grim lesson about the nature of human existence. Nearly all of the characters, including George, Lennie, Candy, Crooks, and Curley’s wife, admit, at one time or another, to having a profound sense of loneliness and isolation. Each desires the comfort of a friend, but will settle for the attentive ear of a stranger. Curley’s wife admits to Candy, Crooks, and Lennie that she is unhappily married, and Crooks tells Lennie that life is no good without a companion to turn to in times of confusion and need. The characters are rendered helpless by their isolation, and yet, even at their weakest, they seek to destroy those who are even weaker than they. Perhaps the most powerful example of this cruel tendency is when Crooks criticizes Lennie’s dream of the farm and his dependence on George. Having just admitted his own vulnerabilities—he is a black man with a crooked back who longs for companionship—Crooks zeroes in on Lennie’s own weaknesses.
In scenes such as this one, Steinbeck records a profound human truth: oppression does not come only from the hands of the strong or the powerful. Crooks seems at his strongest when he has nearly reduced Lennie to tears for fear that something bad has happened to George, just as Curley’s wife feels most powerful when she threatens to have Crooks lynched. The novella suggests that the most visible kind of strength—that used to oppress others—is itself born of weakness.
Fraternity and the Idealized Male Friendship
One of the reasons that the tragic end of George and Lennie’s friendship has such a profound impact is that one senses that the friends have, by the end of the novella, lost a dream larger than themselves. The farm on which George and Lennie plan to live—a place that no one ever reaches—has a magnetic quality, as Crooks points out. After hearing a description of only a few sentences, Candy is completely drawn in by its magic. Crooks has witnessed countless men fall under the same silly spell, and still he cannot help but ask Lennie if he can have a patch of garden to hoe there. The men in Of Mice and Men desire to come together in a way that would allow them to be like brothers to one another. That is, they want to live with one another’s best interests in mind, to protect each other, and to know that there is someone in the world dedicated to protecting them. Given the harsh, lonely conditions under which these men live, it should come as no surprise that they idealize friendships between men in such a way.
Ultimately, however, the world is too harsh and predatory a place to sustain such relationships. Lennie and George, who come closest to achieving this ideal of brotherhood, are forced to separate tragically. With this, a rare friendship vanishes, but the rest of the world—represented by Curley and Carlson, who watch George stumble away with grief from his friend’s dead body—fails to acknowledge or appreciate it.
The Impossibility of the American Dream
Most of the characters in Of Mice and Men admit, at one point or another, to dreaming of a different life. Before her death, Curley’s wife confesses her desire to be a movie star. Crooks, bitter as he is, allows himself the pleasant fantasy of hoeing a patch of garden on Lennie’s farm one day, and Candy latches on desperately to George’s vision of owning a couple of acres. Before the action of the story begins, circumstances have robbed most of the characters of these wishes. Curley’s wife, for instance, has resigned herself to an unfulfilling marriage. What makes all of these dreams typically American is that the dreamers wish for untarnished happiness, for the freedom to follow their own desires. George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm, which would enable them to sustain themselves, and, most important, offer them protection from an inhospitable world, represents a prototypically American ideal. Their journey, which awakens George to the impossibility of this dream, sadly proves that the bitter Crooks is right: such paradises of freedom, contentment, and safety are not to be found in this world.
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
The Corrupting Power of Women
The portrayal of women in Of Mice and Men is limited and unflattering. We learn early on that Lennie and George are on the run from the previous ranch where they worked, due to encountering trouble there with a woman. Misunderstanding Lennie’s love of soft things, a woman accused him of rape for touching her dress. George berates Lennie for his behavior, but is convinced that women are always the cause of such trouble. Their enticing sexuality, he believes, tempts men to behave in ways they would otherwise not.
A visit to the “flophouse” (a cheap hotel, or brothel) is enough of women for George, and he has no desire for a female companion or wife. Curley’s wife, the only woman to appear in Of Mice and Men, seems initially to support George’s view of marriage. Dissatisfied with her marriage to a brutish man and bored with life on the ranch, she is constantly looking for excitement or trouble. In one of her more revealing moments, she threatens to have the black stable-hand lynched if he complains about her to the boss. Her insistence on flirting with Lennie seals her unfortunate fate. Although Steinbeck does, finally, offer a sympathetic view of Curley’s wife by allowing her to voice her unhappiness and her own dream for a better life, women have no place in the author’s idealized vision of a world structured around the brotherly bonds of men.
Loneliness and Companionship
Many of the characters admit to suffering from profound loneliness. George sets the tone for these confessions early in the novella when he reminds Lennie that the life of a ranch-hand is among the loneliest of lives. Men like George who migrate from farm to farm rarely have anyone to look to for companionship and protection. As the story develops, Candy, Crooks, and Curley’s wife all confess their deep loneliness. The fact that they admit to complete strangers their fear of being cast off shows their desperation. In a world without friends to confide in, strangers will have to do. Each of these characters searches for a friend, someone to help them measure the world, as Crooks says. In the end, however, companionship of his kind seems unattainable. For George, the hope of such companionship dies with Lennie, and true to his original estimation, he will go through life alone.
Strength and Weakness
Steinbeck explores different types of strength and weakness throughout the novella. The first, and most obvious, is physical strength. As the story opens, Steinbeck shows how Lennie possesses physical strength beyond his control, as when he cannot help killing the mice. Great physical strength is, like money, quite valuable to men in George and Lennie’s circumstances. Curley, as a symbol of authority on the ranch and a champion boxer, makes this clear immediately by using his brutish strength and violent temper to intimidate the men and his wife.
Physical strength is not the only force that oppresses the men in the book. It is the rigid, predatory human tendencies, not Curley, that defeat Lennie and George in the end. Lennie’s physical size and strength prove powerless; in the face of these universal laws, he is utterly defenseless and therefore disposable