Of Mice and Men Critical Lens
The Practical Reality John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is a novella filled with complex underlining themes and ideas about society and the intriguing concept known as the American Dream. A well-known quote once said by George Orwell states that “Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise. What this quote is saying is that most people have their share of fun in life and enjoy themselves as much as they can, however on a realistic and practical note life isn’t full of happiness alone because along with the fun comes trials, tribulations, and only the younger in mind or naive people fail to realize this. This quote is evident in many places throughout the novel. As we read we see that only the wiser of the ranch hands, were able to recognize reality and come to an understanding that achieving the American Dream is not all fun and games and there is a strong possibility they may not even reach their goal.
A very good example of a naive character blind to the truth is Lennie. Lennie is projected as one that consistently demonstrates inappropriate behavior, is mentally unstable and far more important than that, a very complex character. Throughout the novel we see that Lennie unfailingly was always an optimistic character. He never sought to see the negatives in things and under all circumstances always seemed to see things differently. Even as things seemed hopeless, Lennie always imagined otherwise that the dream was still possible.
In the novel, we see that even after Lennie kills Curley’s wife he does not realize the severity of the situation and is blinded by a false image that everything in life is full of happiness. Lennie does not understand that this is a clear hindrance in his plan to achieve his own dream. On page 105 extending onto 106 we see that even as George is about to kill Lennie, Lennie is still speaking about owning the ranch in the near future. Blind to the fact all along that this dream was near impossible; Lennie never gave up his hope.
On page 105 Steinbeck shows us as George was near killing Lennie he was able to convince him that his death would bring him to the “fatta the land” where he would get to tend to the rabbits all he’d wanted. On this page, as they conversed, they had established with one another that what George was about to do was for the dream. “’For the rabbits’ Lennie shouted. ‘For the rabbits, ‘George repeated. ”Lennie, naive to the fact that his death was a mere sorrowful moment was delighted to die.
Sincerely believing he had been achieving his dream he was not able to come to the realization that not everything in life was full of happiness and that often times life is filled with grief-stricken moments. In this novel, the character of George is also key to this quotes application to the story. As we read we see that George is characterized as a strong minded, witty, and wise individual. Throughout the novel we see that George was portrayed as a firm believer in the American Dream.
Coming from nothing he instilled in Lennie’s mind that someday they themselves would be owners of their own ranch. However, as time passes, we see that things get quite difficult for the ranch hands and the dream now seems rather far-fetched than ever. When George realizes that Lennie has killed Curley’s wife we see something out of George that we had never seen before. George had finally came to the understanding that Curley’s wife’s death would be a major stoppage for the dream on a whole. On page 94 Steinbeck shows the reader what had been in the back of George’s mind throughout the entire novel.
It starts off by saying “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. ” In this quote we see George is speaking about their dream. When he says “he’d never do her” he is acknowledging the fact that from the start he always knew he would never reach his goal. He goes on to say that he had been lying and telling Lennie that they could achieve it so much that he even started to believe it himself.
It is manifest in this quote that George, wiser than the average, knew from the start that the dream was nothing easy to achieve. He knew it was near impossible and indeed came with many troubles. Unlike Lennie, George was not blind to the truth. He states in this quote that from the beginning he knew how much of a task achieving their said dream would be. The character of Crooks is also a prime example of a wise character in which understood that life incorporated problems just as much, if not more than it did happiness. Steinbeck characterizes Crooks s an intelligent, practical, and very lonely individual. Early in the novel we see Crooks enlightens the other ranch hands that through all of the people he has seen not one of them ever achieved their dream. On page 81 we see Crook speaking to George and Lennie. In this conversation we see he says “…They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Everybody wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here.
Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land…” In this quote he is speaking about the many other ranch hands he has seen come to work with dreams and hopes of achieving the goal of owning their own land. He states that time after time no one with this dream ever seemed to accomplish it. Steinbeck’s cleverly written masterpiece Of Mice and Men came with many different messages to tell. All through this novel the palpable messages show themselves to come together to make an excellent read. One major message in this novel was that of a quote once said by George Orwell.
In his quote he acknowledged that although life consists of a lot of pleasurable moments along with it comes a lot of grief and that only the naive think otherwise and do not recognize both the good and bad of life. In wiser characters such as Crooks and George we see that from the beginning they knew the good and bad that life entailed. However in a character such as that of Lennie we see that he was blinded by his immaturity and could not see that life was not always filled with positives alone. Steinbeck unmistakably depicts the message that often times the wiser are aware of what life consists of and the inexperienced are blinded by lies.