Dreams Impossible: Hope in Of Mice and Men Essay
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Hope-an illusion. Hope-something to be seen but never achieved. Hope-something to look forward to, never a reality. Reality comes from action, not wishes. Hope-a thing with feathers, flighty, beautiful, unreal. In both “Hope is the thing with feathers”, by Emily Dickinson, and Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, hope is portrayed as keeping up one’s spirit, and welcome when times are grueling, and sounding promising but not always making sense. Curley’s wife dreams of being a movie star, and this keeps her married, if unhappily, to Curley, but her dream is actually a delusion, and while promising much, never actually delivers. George and Lennie are sustained throughout their troubles by their dream of a farm and escape from the migrant…show more content…
However, the man who said he could put her in the pictures was simply using her, and she was deluding herself to make her life bearable. If she admitted to herself that she was a failure, and hadn’t an ounce of actor in her, she wouldn’t have been able to stay with Curley and keep her pride. She would have either left the ranch, and Curley, or would have lost her will, and been an absolutely dull person. When she died, “the meanness and plannings and discontent and ache for attention were all gone from her face” (101). She was only ‘happy’ in death, because she knew in her heart that her dream was a sham, so she lived a tangled, busy life trying to distract herself from the impossibility of her dream. She truly was lonely for company, because being around Curley made her realize her position and question her dream. Her dream was her anesthetic, dulling her mind to the pain of the world.
If Lennie and George didn’t have their dream, they wouldn’t have had the drive in their life, and would have descended to the level of the other hands; however, their dream wasn’t ‘rational’, appealing only to their hopes, wishes and dreams, and wouldn’t have succeeded anyways. Lennie says to George, “I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you” (15). Lennie and George keep each other afloat in the migrant worker’s life. Without George, Lennie would end up in a mental
Crooks (named for his crooked back) is the stable hand who works with the ranch horses. He lives by himself because he is the only black man on the ranch. Crooks is bookish and likes to keep his room neat, but he has been so beaten down by loneliness and prejudicial treatment of that he is now suspicious of any kindness he receives.
Lennie's brief interaction with Crooks reveals the complexity of racial prejudice in the northern California ranch life. Though Crooks was born in California (not like many Southern blacks who had migrated, he implies), he is still always made to feel like an outsider, even in his home state. Crooks is painfully aware that his skin color is all that keeps him separate in this culture. This outsider status causes him to lament his loneliness, but he also delights in seeing the loneliness of others, perhaps because misery loves company. When Crooks begins to pick on Lennie, suggesting George won't come home, we discover the slight mean streak that undoubtedly develops after being alone for so long. Lennie unwittingly soothes Crooks into feeling at ease, and Candy even gets the man excited about the dream farm, to the point where Crooks could fancy himself worthy and equal enough to be in on the plan with the guys.
Crooks's little dream of the farm is shattered by Curley's wife's nasty comments, slotting the black man right back into his "place" as inferior to a white woman. Jolted into that era's reality by Curley's wife harsh treatment, Crooks refuses to say the woman is wrong. Instead, he accepts the fact that he lives with ever-present racial discrimination. He dismisses the other men, saying he had "forgotten himself" because they'd treated him so well. It seems Crooks defines his own notion of himself not based on what he believes he's worth, but on knowing that no matter how he feels, others around him will always value him as less. As quickly as he got excited about the dream, he abandons it, telling Candy he was "Jus foolin" about being interested in his own freedom and happiness.Crooks' Timeline