Hope and Futility in Of Mice and Men

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Hope and Futility in Of Mice and Men

Everyone has a dream they hope to achieve, but dreams are not always possible to attain. In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, two ranch hands, George and Lennie, find work in Salinas Valley. Lennie, constantly getting into trouble, inadvertently causes the two of them to be run out of town and thus have to find new work regularly. George and Lennie's search for work in the hope of accomplishing their dream of a small farm of their own displays how futile realizing dreams can be.

The major themes identified by commentators in Of Mice and Men are friendship and isolation, hope and futility(Votteler 334). Through George and Lennie's friendship, the hope to achieve their dream is kept alive. "George, little and clever, feels that Lennie has been given into his keeping"(Moore 341). "Simpleminded and gentle, Lennie possesses great physical strength and becomes unwittingly destructive when startled"(Votteler 334). Although Lennie is very strong, he is also very timid and has trouble remembering things, but under George's control, Lennie is calm and docile since he just does what George tells him to(Moore 341).

According to Moore, "Of Mice and Men tells the story of two drifting ranch hands, George and Lennie, who dream, as rootless men do, of a piece of land of their own, where they will 'belong'"(341). George tells Lennie that the loneliest guys in the world are like them working on ranches, have no family, no place to belong for continually moving on to a new ranch, and have nothing to look forward to(Steinbeck 13). With them, it is not like that because they have a future, somebody to talk to, and are working toward getting their own farm with a couple acres of land(Steinbeck 14). Lennie enjoys the idea of having a farm and tending to the rabbits so much that he begs George to tell the story over and over again(Rascoe 337). George holds Lennie in check by telling him about the farm and the condition that if he is good he will be allowed to tend the rabbits on the farm. The dream was originally designed by George as a way to try to get Lennie to be good, but after many times of repeating it, he begins to believe it himself(Moore 341). "George 'uses' Lennie to sustain his own dream of the farm, that if he didn't believe that Lennie needed him for protection his illusion would dissipate under the pressures of the workday world"(Marks 354).

George and Lennie come to work in the Salinas Valley where they are on the brink of achieving their dream or doom(Moore 341). The itinerant workers hope to get the farm they dream of with the money earned from working on the ranch(Doren 335). Curley's wife's dream of becoming a famous movie star in Hollywood is as real to her as Lennie's dream of tending the rabbits is to him(Beatty 362). George and Lennie are not like the other ranch hands in their friendship for each other and proves to be so unusual that it brings hope to the bunkhouse keeper, Candy, and Crooks, for the possibility that the dream of a home on their own farm could be fulfilled(Dusenbury 346).

The unexpected offer of three hundred dollars by Candy suddenly convinces George that their dream may finally be attained(Shurgot 365). Crooks wants this dream, that is unattainable by himself, so bad that he offers to work for free in the dream just to be able to go along. Hope brings life to the world of ranch hands and inspires them to think that all things are possible(Dusenbury 346). George and Lennie need each other to keep their dream of buying their own land alive(Marks 354).

In Weed, Lennie wanted to just feel the material of a girl's dress like a mouse, she got scared and jerked back and he held on like it was a mouse, she screamed and George and Lennie had to run out of town to find a new job(Steinbeck 11). Since Lennie keeps getting into trouble, they have not been able to accumulate a stake large enough to realize their dreams(Moore 341).
"Lennie is a half-witted giant with