George and Lennie's American Dream Essay Example


This extract is taken from the ultimate part of the novel. Lennie has found himself in a troubling situation. George is left with an onerous task, with the men drawing nearer and the suspense rising, he can’t see a way out for Lennie. Curley’s wife has died, making him vengeful and a serious threat. This extract shows of Lennie’s final moments, it is the saddest part of the novel and the end of George and Lennie’s close-knit friendship. With George and Lennie being itinerant workers, due to the Great Depression in America at the time, they lead a lonely lifestyle with a lack of permanence and stability. George and Lennie were each other’s support systems, and we see how George struggles in Lennie’s final moments at the loss of his friend.  Without Lennie, Goerge will be just as lonely as the other itinerant workers.

There are many simple sentences in the extract, such as ‘Lennie turned his head,’ and ‘Lennie obeyed him. George looked down at the gun.’ These are short and build suspense. They also foreshadow Lennie’s death, as they end the sentence. The reader is forced to wait in anticipation as the many full stops increase the number of pauses in the extract. Ellipses is shown in George’s speech at multiple points in the dialogue. Examples of this include ‘we’ll have a … little piece alfalfa’ and ‘you … an’ me’. The latter shows how George is unsure they will be together; he already knows what must be done. This stress induced stammer shows Georges hesitation in what he says because of how unsure he is of the future.  George knows the American dream they have is out of reach and just a dream, he has finally realised it always will be. With the loss of his best friend, George will be lonely and won’t have the perfect dream reality. Hope has disappeared by the end of the novel.

Georges urgency is shown in his commands. He orders George around ‘take off your hat Lennie’ he says. At first, we may believe it is for the reason he gives Lennie, ‘the air feels fine’ but this is a falsehood. The real reason Lennie needs his hat off, is so George has a clear shot at the back of his head. George doesn’t want to panic Lennie with the truth. He lets him go, peacefully, a surprise to him. He uses many imperatives in his words, ‘take’, ‘look’ , ‘go’. Another trick George tells Lennie to get him to obey his requests is ‘look acrost the river, Lennie, an’ I tell you so you can almost see it.’ This is far more pleasant than the reality. George downplays the situation, to make Lennie’s final moments hopeful and pleasant.

George and Lennie discuss the dream. Whilst George knows all hope is gone, Lennie believes the American Dream may still be in reach. This loss of hope is shown with light imagery, a literary technique used in multiple of the dark chapters of the novel. The quote uses pathetic fallacy to show this, ‘the shadow in the valley was bluer, and the evening came fast.’ This also shows the end is coming quickly, as night-time falls. ‘Tell how it’s gonna be,’ Lennie says, to which George responds, ‘We gonna get a little place,’ after a moment of hesitation. Lennie keeps trailing back to the dream, it’s his source of light in the dark times. Just as he went back to it after his fight with Curley, and his wife’s passing.

Georges loss of hope is shown through Steinbeck’s narration, ‘for a moment he was business-like’. This shows the seriousness of their situation. When George appears to show hopefulness, it is a front purely to fool Lennie for good intentioned reasons. It is also important to George that they spend this time together, and that his best friend isn’t subjected to the cruel consequences of his actions and of Curley’s harsh nature. While George is filled with worry and a realistic view, Lennie ‘giggled with happiness.’ The adverb ‘shakily’ is used to describe George’s speech at the start of the paragraph, this reflects his true emotions.

As the extract grows to a close, and the other workers grow nearer, multiple phrases are used to describe the nearing danger. These describe sound of movement, and vocalising. The first sense of a nearing danger comes with ‘on the wind the sound of crashing in the brush came to them.’ The men are now close enough to be heard. In another paragraph it says, ‘George had been listening to the distant sounds.’ It is not clear if Lennie notices, perhaps if he did, he chose to stay ignorant to them and the urgence they hold, to save himself from the realisation of his currently bleak reality. Then ‘a man’s voice called from the top of the river.’ Next, ‘There were crashing footsteps in the brush now!’ The adjective crashing tells us the footsteps are now loud, whereas before they were ‘distant sounds’. The men are much closer despite little time appearing to have passed. Hope grows even smaller as the extract continues. ‘The voices came close now,’ the next piece of sound imagery reads. 

George first reaches for Carlsons gun third paragraph in the extract. It reads, ‘He reached in his side pocket and brought out Carlson’s Luger; he snapped off the safety, and the hand and gun lay on the ground behind Lennie’s head.’ Here what George intends to do with the gun becomes very clear, as he snaps of the safety, and positions it facing Lennie. Next, he ‘raised the gun and his hand shook, and he dropped his hand to the ground again.’ He is clearly hesitant to do what he set out to do, he knows he will be lonely without Lennie. He doesn’t want to deal with the loss. When Lennie said, ‘Go on, George. When we gonna do it?’ To me, it almost felt like in George’s head he envisioned those words as about the killing. He replies ‘gonna do it soon.’ In the context of the dream, this is a lie. 

George lies to Lennie until the latter’s very last breath. Lennie, referring to the dream says; ‘Le’s do it now. Le’s get that place now.’  George lies saying ‘sure, right now. I gotta. We gotta.’ George’s reaction to Lennie’s death is this, ‘George quivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him back up on the bank, near the pile of old ashes.’ This seems like George must process what he’s done and is left devastated and unable to think clearly. He then throws the gun away from him, as it serves as a reminder of that evening’s events. The verb ‘quivered’ also tells of his trouble processing his actions and loss. 

The theme of loneliness in this novel is very present and salient. Throughout this novels loss and isolation are shown to be experienced by most characters, even when surrounded by other people, there can be a lack of emotional closeness – the itinerant workers. Physical and literal isolation – Crooks.  A lack of comfort and socialisation – Curley’s wife. A lack of proper friendship – the itinerant workers and Curley. The only exception from this was Lennie and George because they had each other and spent much of their time together, they had a past and shared secrets. They could trust each other. Now that half of the friendship duo is gone, Lennie is dead and George is left lonely, and will have to deal with the loss of the person he is closest to – which could cause isolation. No one else will be able to relate to his loss much because of their impermanent lifestyle. Loneliness is shown throughout the extract as George mentally prepares himself for the inevitable outcome of the night, the reader is forced to do this too. As the reader can tell due to foreshadowing throughout the novel – and the lack of pages left, that this story does not have a happy ending.

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