John Steinbeck Common Themes
Ultimately, through multiple examples in the novel, Steinbeck suggests the American dream acts more of as a motivator rather than a reality.
While Steinbeck uses George and Lennie to convey the unachievable American Dream, he also uses them to convey the importance of relationships. Friendship plays a major role in the story development, greatly affecting the actions of George and Lennie. George demonstrates this theme’s effect on him when he talks to Lennie about sticking together: “‘where the hell could you go?’…’How’d you eat. You ain’t got sense enough to find nothing to eat.’ ‘I’d find things, George. I don’t need no nice food with ketchup.’…George looked quickly and searchingly at him. ‘I been mean, ain’t I?’ (Of Mice and Men, p. 11-12). At first, it seems George regretfully carries the burden of taking care of Lennie, but, when studied further, George sees Lennie more of as a friend instead of a burden. In this quotation, George displays his friendship when he acknowledges his harshness after he yells at Lennie. George’s friendship with Lennie also becomes evident at the end of the novella where Georges execution of Lennie demonstrates an act of kindness on behalf of their friendship. George, instead of letting Curley give him a long, painful death, gives Lennie a short and painless one. Additionally, the theme of friendship also affects Lennie when he recites part of George and his dream of owning a ranch: “But not us! An’ why?