Most people are familiar with the phrase “it’s too good to be true”, dreams coming true is an example of this common misconception. In John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, he uses numerous applications of juxtaposition, symbolism, foreshadowing, and other literary devices to prove dreams are unlikely to always come true because even the best plans can fail.
Steinbeck highlights numerous dream failures between different people through various applications of juxtaposition. In Chapter 5, Lennie talks about the dreams he hopes to achieve with George while Curley’s wife talks about her theatrical aspirations. According to Curley’s wife “I could go with that show. But my ‘old lady wouldn’t let me if [I would have gone] I wouldn’t be living like this, you bet” (86).
Lennie replies, “We gonna have a little place-an’ rabbits” (86). Lennie’s and Curley’s wife’s dreams, lets the audience to see the similarities and foreshadows that Lennie and George dreaming of getting their place with the rabbits and Curley’s Wife dreaming of becoming an actress would be done in vain. Chapter 5 highlights the struggle that Lennie experiences both emotionally and mentally he has a hard time controlling his strength throughout the novella. “I don’t want to hurt you, but George will be mad if you yell. I’ve done a bad thing. I’ve done a very bad thing” (91). Lennie never intentionally tried to kill anyone, but he cannot control his strength. This leads to shattering his peace of mind, which soon can also shatter his dream of getting his own place with George.
Steinbeck uses numerous applications of symbolism to represent rather than saying how and why dreams can fail. Chapter 1 reveals Lennie’s dream is to gets a farm with rabbits, which helps reveal Lennie’s innocence through indirect characterization. “isn’t fit to lick the boots of no rabbit. You’d forget ’em and let ’em go hungry” (6). It seems that Lennie likes the rabbits, but unfortunately his strong affection will soon lead to his tragic downfall.
The soft animals then symbolize innocence and its elimination in cruel world. The dead mouse in Lennie’s pocket symbolizes his love and strength and foreshadows the fate of Curley’s wife, Lennie’s puppy, George and Lennie’s dream and Lennie. “Jus’ a dead mouse, George. I didn’t kill it. Honest! I found it. I found it dead” (3). Mice represent a fantasy for Lennie. The title is a good hint that mice are significant in this situation, but the first mouse that we encounter is a dead one which foreshadows the future fate of George and Lennie’s dream.
Steinbeck uses numerous applications of foreshadowing to get the audience to visualize and predict future events pertaining to George’s and Lennie’s dream becoming a reality. “Just wanted to pet that girl’s dress-just wanted to pet it like it was a mouse” (11). This situation reveals Lennie likes to feel soft objects, no matter what it is-doesn’t realize if it’s wrong or right. This foreshadows Lennie’s death through examples of his innocence can lead to his unfortunate downfall because he doesn’t understand the effects of his actions or learns from his mistakes.
Likewise, Lennie’s innocence can lead to the unfortunate downfall of his dream with George. Lennie says, “I never meant [any] harm” (32) later in the novella. Lennie never means any harm in anything he does which shows he will have trouble in the future, he did not mean to get in, the death of his pup and Curley’s wife for example.
John Steinbeck exemplifies the fact that even dreams planed out in advance can still fail. Dreams are always visions of what people want and to make those dreams reality one must work hard and do what it takes to accomplish what they want.
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