In America during the 1930’s many farmers went bankrupt and were evicted from home. The evictions were the start of the American depression era. The American depression era was a time of great unemployment which affected everyone from the rich to the poor. At this time many people were lacking in many important essentials, because of the lack of essentials the depression forced people to dream generate ambitions for a better life.
In Steinbeck’s novel, George is lacking in many important essentials so he has plenty of dreams and ambitions. Early on in the story George ‘exploded’ about the essentials he hadn’t got. He tells Lennie that he could ‘go get a job an’ work’ or ‘take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want’. George often discusses his lack of money in steinbecks novel, describing that money is a problem for him. George’s problems were shared by many other men during the depression era. Steinbeck uses George to highlight this problem.
George constantly dreams about his future and how he can earn money by living ‘off the fatta the lan’. George dreams about these ambitions because of his problems with money. In essence, he has dreams because he doesn’t have what he desires.
George changes his attitude completely when he discusses these dreams. Usually George is aggressive and mean, often towards Lennie, but when Lennie asks George to talk about the dream, George replies in an agreeable and polite way by simply saying ‘sure’ and answering Lennies question. George also seems to get excited when recounting his dreams ‘His voice was growing warmer’, which suggests that he is suddenly interested in telling his story of the dreams. This attitude contrasts completely with his former character.
Steinbeck ends one of his chapters by illustrating George’s ambition. He makes it seem as though nature is responding to George’s happiness. Writing ‘The red light dimmed on the coals’. This image gives the feeling of calmness and happiness.
At the end of the novel we find that like all other men during the American depression era George’s dreams and ambitions don’t come true.
Candy is another character in Steinbeck’s story that has similar dreams and ambitions to George. Candy is an insecure and old man who isn’t as poor as George, but still misses the essentials of life.
Candy had been working on a ranch for a long time. When he hears about George’s idea he is very excited. Lying on his bunk Candy first hears about George’s dream. Straight away Steinbeck gives us the impression Candy is interested by writing ‘old candy turned slow over, his eyes were wide open’, which gives the readers the impression that Candy likes what he hears.
When Candy talks about Georges’ dream he seems very enthusiastic. He ‘went on excitedly’ as he joined in the conversation. When George got a chance to talk ‘Candy interrupted him’ animatedly showing his relief that ‘his dream was coming’
Curley’s wife is another character that has strong dreams and ambitions but her dreams contrast significantly compared to George and Candy’s. Curley’s wife doesn’t lack money and doesn’t want to live on a different ranch like George and Candy. Instead she dreams about why she hasn’t ‘got a right to talk to nobody’ and why people don’t like talking to her.
Curley’s wife also has another dream. She dreams about being an actress, and during the story describes the chance she had of going ‘with the show’.
The character Curley doesn’t like his wife talking to other people. Throughout the story the story Curley’s wife grabs at every opportunity to have conversations with other men on the ranch while Curley isn’t around.
Towards the end of the book, at the start of Chapter five, Curley’s wife gets the chance to have a lengthy conversation with Lennie. She angrily explains that she ‘gets lonely’ and she ‘can’t talk to noboby but Curley’. ‘Her face grew angry’ when Lennie keeps on pleading her to leave him. Throughout her talk with Lennie she uses a bitter tone to describe how ‘none of them cares how I gotta live’. Steinbeck shows how desperate Curley’s wife is to have conversations when he writes that ‘she went on with her story quickly, before she could get interrupted’. Which shows that all Curley’s wife wants to do, is continue talking whilst she has the chance.
The theme of dreams coming true is constant throughout the story. In the end we find that George’s, Candy’s and Curley’s wife dreams do not come to anything. Steinbeck purposely links this to the fact that during the American depressions era no ones dreams were meant to come true.
In summary, the importance of the them of dreams and ambitions in of Mice and Men, is to prove people with the hope in a time of great depression.