Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Is Steinbeck trying to convey that the American dream is almost an impossibility? Most Americans have a dream or a goal that they want to achieve in life.
In the novel Of Mice and Men Lennie and George have a dream of living on their own farm someday. The use of foreshadowing is used to often give readers hints throughout the story on how the story ends. In the novel, we find out that it doesn`t end the way we think it would when we first start reading it. We think that the book will have a happy ending and that Lennie and George will get to live on their dream farm. Little do we know that Steinbeck has a deeper and more powerful meaning behind the ending that leaves us questioning why he chose to end the novel the way he did by having George kill Lennie.
One of the most noticeable signs of foreshadowing was when Lennie was introduced to Curley’s wife. In the beginning of the book it told how Lennie and George had to leave the town of Weed because Lennie was holding on to a girl’s soft dress, which made her file a report against Lennie. The way Lennie wouldn’t let go of that woman’s dress, and the way he held on tight enough to rip it, foreshadows that probably the same thing is going to happen with the puppy, killing the puppy because he was holding on too hard. George stated in the beginning of the book that Lennie is always getting into trouble saying, “You do bad things and I got to get you out” (Steinbeck 11). The situation with the girl in Weed and Curley’s wife being the only girl on the ranch hinted to me that something is going to happen between Lennie and Curley’s wife, which is going to create trouble.
Another huge indication in the use of foreshadowing was the death of Candy’s dog. The dog was shot in the back of the head which is the exact way that Lennie died at the end of the book. Candy told George, “I ought to have shot that dog myself” (61). What Candy told George made George kill Lennie himself rather than having a complete stranger do the job. Having George kill Lennie by shooting him in the back of the head was thought to be the best way because Carlson stated when talking about the death of Candy’s dog that “He won’t even feel it” (48).
When Lennie killed Curley’s wife by touching her hair and holding onto her too hard he broke her neck, killing her which led me to believe that Lennie was going to be shot and killed at the end of the novel due to the fact that he first tried to hide the body in the hay in the barn and tried to hide. When the men found out what had happened, Curley got all the men together to find and kill Lennie. We get a look at most of the characters dreams of a better life for themselves in the novel. None of the characters end up accomplishing their dream of what they wanted to do in life. The rabbits in the story symbolize Lennie’s dream and how he finds joy in the simple things in life. His dream crumbles before his eyes when every soft animal he touches ends up getting killed by him being too rough with the animals.
It finally escalates when he actually kills a human, Curley’s wife. Lennie ends up getting killed for his actions because he became too dangerous. Steinbeck is trying to point out that the American dream needs hope. You need to have ambition and take action, rather than dreaming for something good to happen to you, which I get the feeling that a lot of the characters had that mind set in the book. Lennie always puts himself down when George gets upset. He always says that he should die or go live in a cave far away all by himself.
Curley’s wife had the dream of going to Hollywood and becoming a movie star, and Lennie and George had the dream of living on their own farm. We now know that Lennie and George will not accomplish their dream. The death of Lennie had a huge impact on George and the realization that he just killed his friend. He will not be able to live on his dream farm and now that Lennie is gone, he knows how much he should have valued their friendship. In conclusion, the ending of the story has one meaning that really stuck out to me.
The meaning of the novel is that you should work hard to accomplish your dream in life because if you set yourself towards your goal, you can achieve anything. But if you don’t learn from your mistakes and know your weaknesses, you can fall hard in the end and that’s what happened to Lennie.