1.1.1 It is of becoming rich and famous through individual effort.
1.1.2 Since all the characters with dreams - Candy, George and
Lennie, Curley's wife - all end up disappointed, Steinbeck is
trying to show that the American Dream can't materialise
either. Curley's wife's dream is similar to the American
Dream: she wants fame and fortune. As readers, we can see
she has no real talent and was just being naive, so we know
her ideals are unattainable. In this way, Steinbeck wants to
show that the American Dream is impossible to reach too.
1.2 Disappointed dreams
1.3 Characters have dreams because it gives them hope and something to work for
throughout their desolate and dull everyday lives. Lennie always wants to hear about
their dream, and it is what he clings to through the hard days spent in a place he initially
doesn't like. Curley's wife clings to her dream because it is her only friend on the ranch,
which is why she is so proud foretelling it to others,she wants to show it off.
2.1 Nearly all the main characters experience loneliness and isolation.
"I get lonely." (Curley's wife)
"A guy goes nuts [when he's alone]" (Crooks)
"Funny how you an' him string along together." (Slim)
"What stake you got in this guy?" (The boss)
"It's a lot nicer to go around with a guy you know." (George)
2.2 Since George and Lennie have the only true
friendship on the ranch, it looks unique and
special compared to the isolation and
individuality of everyday else on the ranch.
2.3 Whit longs for the old friendship of a Bill
Tenner: "Bill was a hell of a nice fella."
2.4 Migrant workers of the 30s usually travelled alone
to find work, the lonely ranch life highlights this
2.5 Represented by Crooks' room, where the
isolated minority group members gather:
Crooks, Candy, Curley's wife Lennie
3 Death/ inevitability
3.1 The theme of death is used throughout, and there is a build-up of
deaths going up the hierarchy - first animals (mouse, dog) then
humans. The animal deaths foreshadow the human deaths, like
Candy's dog foreshadowing Lennie's death.
3.2 Lennie accidentally kills the puppy because he doesn't
realise his own strength in the same way he kills
4 Minority groups/ injustice
4.1 The minority groups of the Depression era are
represented by Crooks, the only black, who represents all
blacks suffering racism in the 30s; Curley's wife, the only
woman on the ranch, who represents all women who were
judged in a sexist way during this time; Candy, the only old
person on the ranch, who represents the old and disabled
who were cast aside and deemed 'too weak' in society;
and Lennie, the only mentally ill one, who represents those
with learning difficulties who were seen as crazy at the
time.…. Because they are all the only one of their kind, e.g.
only woman, their isolation as outcasts is emphasised.
4.2 Life for migrant workers was tough and they had to
work for a fraction of what they would have earned
in the Roaring 20s because it was all they could get.