The book ‘Of Mice and Men’ was written by john Steinbeck and is set in the 1930s in America. This was the time of the Great Depression which was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The depression originated in America, starting with the stock market crash on October 29TH 1929 known as black Tuesday. The great depression had devastating effects on the on the whole world with mass unemployment and economic decline in virtually every territory.
The depression led to a drop in demand for primary sector industries such as farming, mining and logging this in turn led to deflation. Many people lost faith in conventional currency and instead turned to gold and other precious metals, a similar Pattern is emerging with our economy today, as precious metals are seen as a safe investment compared to fluctuating stock prices or the unpredictable currency values. ‘Of Mice and Men’ tells the story of two migrant field workers trying to find work during the great depression- , George Milton an intelligent cynical man and the ironically named Lennie small.
They find work on a ranch near Soledad and “try to get a stake” they hope to one day settle down on their own piece of land, this is a reference to the American dream, Lennie’s American dream is ,which he never tires of hearing George describe, merely to “tend them rabbits” and “living of the fatta’ the lan”. They are fleeing from their previous employment in Weed where they were run out of town after Lennie’s love of stroking soft things resulted in an accusation of attempted rape when he touched a young woman’s dress.
At the ranch the boss has reservations about George as he believes that he is trying to manipulate Lennie he asks what stake he has in Lennie. George and Lennie’s dream moves closer to reality when the aged, one handed ranch-hand offers to pitch in with George and Lennie so they can buy a farm at the end of the month. The dream crashes when Lennie accidentally kills the young and attractive wife of Curley, the ranch owner’s son, while trying to stroke her hair. A lynch mob led by Curley gathers. George realizes that Lennie will suffer at the hands of curly and instead decides that it will be more humane for him to kill Lennie himself.
George finds Lennie in the “brush” and tells him to look into the distance as George recites their dream of a piece of land and shoots Lennie in the back of the head. One of the main themes is the theme of dreams as most of the characters have a dream. This idea is based on the American dream which is variable from person to person some aspire to be independent, to be your own boss, to have a homestead, some aspire to be able to look after themselves in their old age. While others like crooks merely seek to be accepted and have a place in society. For George and lennie the dream is to live of the “fatta the lan” and to “tend them rabbits”.
The two main characters in the book are George and Lennie and both of them have dreams. George is a quick-witted, intelligent man whom has been looking after Lennie since his Aunt Clara died. His dream is to control his own life, be able to go out when he wants, drink when he wants and work when he wants. George aspires to be self employed and have his own little patch of land that he can call home. He wants to “live off the fatta of the lan” he also dreams of being secure, self sufficient and being able to feel that he belongs not having to travel from place to place or “busting a nut” for other peoples gain.
George’s dream doesn’t come true as he has to kill Lennie and so he becomes a wanderer like the “other guys” traveling from place to place with no one to care for them and no place to call home or belong to. Lennie’s dream is slightly different. Lennie is a large, strong man but has the mind of a child. He likes petting soft things which has got him into a lot of trouble such as when he was in stains and he tried to pet a girls dress and she didn’t understand mistaking it for a rape. His dream is to be able to “tend them rabbits” and “live off the fatta the lan”.