John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men is about two men, George and Lennie travelling through California during the Great Depression. They dream of owning their own ranch instead of working for other men. The issue of dreams plays an important role in this story and it is discussed through the use of characterisation, imagery and symbolism. As the reader, I am persuaded to believe that dreams and hopes were of vital importance in order to carry on through the hardship and wreckage of the Great Depression.
Lennie is a simple-minded giant with a mental disability. The other characters share their dreams and hopes with Lennie, who will always find time to listen to them. He does not react to what the other characters say. He dreams of having his own rabbits to tender and alfalfa for them to eat. He wants to "live on the fatta the lan" " (18). George provides "hope" for Lennie by reminding him of their dreams for the future and Lennie would often ask George to tell him their dream as a bedtime story for comfort. Lennie has great physical strength, which is beyond his control. He kills small animals just by stroking them. George needs to use their dream to control Lennie. "[I] aint gonna let you tend no rabbits" (78) if you kill the puppy. Both George and Lennie depend on the dream for their existence during such bleak times. The dream is their hope for the future. Lennie wants "different coloured rabbits" (19). Rabbits do not come as red, blue or green as George suggests. This is symbolic of unrealistic explanations.
Lennies' dream is to be with nature. However, it is ironic that his uncontrollable strength kills nature, foreshadowing from a mouse to a puppy to Curleys' wife. Every time something dies, the dream seems more unrealistic. When the mouse dies, we are made aware of his strength and child like behaviour of being drawn to continuously touch soft things. The death of the puppy clearly indicates that Lennie is not being able to tend the rabbits.