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Of Mice and Men

Times of the Great Depression

Carolina Fragoso
Humanities
May 2016

Fragoso 2
Carolina Fragoso

Angie Guerrero
Honors

Of Mice and Men


The 1930s were harsh times for the American people and for the U.S. economy.
They were a time in history where many jobs were lost, money was low, and poverty
was high. During this time many pieces of literature arose, one of which told the Great
Depressions struggles in a certain way that launched the book into an American
Classic. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck tells the reality for some people during this
time were work and jobs are scarce. The book follows the journey of George and Lennie
two migrant workers with opposite traits, whom dream of owning their own land and
farm on it. George is small but is the smart one whom always knows what to do. Lennie
is a large man with mental disabilities that has a love for petting soft animals, and with
his strong hands accidentally kills them .In order for them to reach their dream they
have to save up, due to Lennies problems in their last jobs they had to find a new one
on a ranch runned by the bosss son Curley, whom is really mean especially to Lennie
because he was a big guy. As the story progresses the reader gets a glimpse of the
harsh reality some people had to go through in order to make money in those times and
how the workers had to face reality when it came to their dreams. Another realistic
aspect was that some of the jobs available were ones that left many workers with
physical disabilities and then would ultimately make it extremely harsh for them to find
other work.

In the book, the author Steinbeck ties in the truth about the American dream and
the reality to obtain it. He also illustrated a clear picture of ways people searched for
jobs even with their disabilities.

American Dream
The American dream has existed in two main waves. In the beginning of the
unraveling United States, many immigrants came in search of the American dream.
They left their homes in search for a better life in the land of the free, and believed that
the U.S., would be the place where hard work would allow them to live comfortably. With
the idea that many different immigrants were able to create a different system and
everyone had the ability to pursue their dreams. "...That dream of a land in which life
should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according
to ability or achievement" (The Epic of America).
During the 1920s the American dream has taken a new form. The perception of
the American Dream was that an individual can achieve success in life, regardless of
their family history or social status if they only work hard enough. The new american
dream moved away from wanting hard work to live a comfortable life, to a more
materialistic concept that may also involve corruption. This is also shown in the book,
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in which the plot includes a poor man who
became lavishly rich with the use of corruption as well as hard work.

In the book, Of Mice and Men, the american dream for many of the men that
work on the farm is their own piece of land. Crooks, the black stable-hand explained the

reality of the hopes of the passing migrant workers to Lennie. After Lennie talked about
how George and him were going to save up to buy land and live out the fatta the lan,
Crooks talks about the harsh reality. They [other migrant workers] come, an they quit
and go on; and every damn one of ems got a little piece of land in his head. An never a
God damn one of em ever gets it (Steinbeck 74).
Steinbeck demonstrates how the American dream has changed though George
and Lennie. During the first idea of the dream,it seemed anyone could come to America,
work hard, gain and reach their goals. George and Lennie were working towards their
goal and had a clear idea of how to reach it, but it could never become a reality. Many
other workers like Crooks and Candy have worked hard their whole lives and never
reached their goals, and are driven into this path of working until no longer able and
eventually death, just like Candys old smelling dog . The author demonstrates the harsh
reality through the strories of these characters.
The American dream was a huge part of this story that could be interpreted in
many ways. The author uses great literary devices to illustrate the idea of this dream in
a realistic view though his main characters, as well as supporting. His realistic view of
this idea, gave an insight to the harsh times in which many people suffered to reach
their goals, and a vast amount never got a glimpse of their goal. The only force that
drove people- as well as

George and Lennie- was the idea of their heaven. Even if it was far fetched, Lennie
and George were alway put to ease thinking about the land and rabbits.

Great Depression
After the rising economy of the 1920s boom era, the whole U.S. economy
collapsed. With the stock market crash and overproduction of many businesses-(that
eventually led to losses in company values)-as one of the factors of the collapse, the
Great Depression was a devastating time for many Americans. As the failing economy
of the 1930s continued to plummet many lost their jobs. Around 3 to 15 million
Americans were unemployed and a run on the banks , caused the banks to seek loans
and eventually nearly half of the countrys banks failed and more than 1 in 5 americans
could not find work.
During the great depression, many left their homes and families and went to work
anywhere they could. Like the Joad family in John Steinbecks The Grapes of Wrath,
some 40 percent of migrant farmers wound up in the San Joaquin Valley, picking grapes
and cotton. They took up the work of Mexican migrant workers, 120,000 of whom were
repatriated during the 1930s. Life for migrant workers was hard (pbs).
In Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie try to reach their goal of owning their
own farm by saving up money. They try to save their money by working on different
farms,

different because Lennies problems with past jobs, forces the duo to move onto another
job.

New Deal

During the first term of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New deal was created. In 1933,
towards the beginning of the Great depression, to attack the on going problem The New
Deal was created to assist the people. They are a series of programs that provided
relief for unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy to normal level, and the reform
of the financial system to prevent the depression from happening again.
These programs also assisted people with disabilities. The Social Security Act
also contained several federal poor relief programs. Meant to be a continuing federal
responsibility, these programs included Old Age Assistance, Aid to the Blind, and Aid to
Dependent Children (Marx, Jerry). This meaning if you were not able to work the
government would be able to provide help. This would serve as a huge help to people
with disabilities during this time of jobs in the country.
Whilst working on a farm physical disabilities are bound to happen after years of
working. The New Deal would have helped those in the story whom were not fit to work
anymore.

Conclusion
The American Classic, Of mice and Men written by John Steinbeck is a literary
journey. Steinbeck's use of literary devices throughout the story, as well as his intriguing
characters illustrate a picture for the reader that allows for a deeper understanding of
the harsh times. There is a deeper understanding to the changes in the American dream
as well as a further understanding of the setbacks of having disabilities and working as
well as even trying to find work.

Citations
1.
Web.
2.
3.

Kiger, Patrick J. "How the American Dream Works." HowStuffWorks. 2011.


11 May 2016.
Mass Exodus From the Plains American Experience. PBS. Web. 13 May 2016.
Jerry D. Marx. American Social Policy in the Great Depression and World War II

The social Welfare History Project. Web. 14 May 2016.