Jack Men by John Steinbeck, two characters

Jack MedrekMrs. SosnickiEnglish/Language Arts 1 H12 December 2017Composition of the American DreamWhat exactly makes up the American Dream? Many people have their own American Dream, but do not know what it is made of. In the book, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, two characters – George and Lennie – in the 1930’s travel to a ranch in California to work towards their American Dream. Their relationship is not equal – George tends to take care of Lennie; to act as a parent. Also, in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, the younger family is under a financial conflict, which sparks adventure and conflict in the story. Walter Sr.’s death sparks a family conflict over financial gains. This financial gain is being fought over for each member of the family to achieve their own American Dream; and it is quite important that they come to terms with their dreams. These stories give great examples of people achieving or accepting their dream. There are endless possibilities of different American Dreams, but there are three main parts that make everyone think of the American Dream. Three components of the American Dream include wealth and self sufficiency, family values, and self improvement. First of all, many people aspire to be wealthy, and so is part of their American Dream. Secondly, family values are also a huge part of people’s American Dream, because family is such a big part of American lives. Lastly, self-improvement may also be on American’s minds in terms of their aspirations.Many Americans view affluence as a major component of the American Dream; it enables people to gain experiences that they otherwise would not be able to. Early on in the book, George is saying the sentence very seriously, and Lennie is focused on his voice. To summarize, George starts talking about how ranchers like them are some of the loneliest people on Earth. The other ranchers are all they have. “They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake and then they go into town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch.” (Steinbeck 7). The quote explains that ranchers are stuck in a loop. If they keep blowing their stake like this, they will never move on to something better. In other words, ranchers are stuck near the bottom of the financial ladder, meaning that they will be poor forever. George and Lennie do not intend to be like every other rancher, in that they will save up their money for their American Dream. The main point of this quote is that ranchers have an income, but their ways of spending what they earn right away keeps them working, just to blow their stake once again. This attitude that most ranchers in Of Mice and Men seem to have is what is preventing them from reaching their American Dream. For example, ranchers like Slim or Carlson tend to be spontaneous and compulsive, rather than thinking things through. In A Raisin in the Sun, the Younger family is very similar to the ranchers in Of Mice and Men. The Youngers are financially trapped in their small apartment, with the adults of the family working just to make ends meet. Hansberry is implying that this is limiting the Youngers’ ability to reach their dreams, if all their hard work does nothing more than keep them where they are instead of boosting them up. However, unlike George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men, the Youngers eventually get a financial gain from Walter Sr.’s death. Another piece of evidence shows that in A Raisin in the Sun, the Younger family is having financial issues. Towards the beginning of A Raisin in the Sun, Ruth tells Travis that he cannot have the fifty cents he needs to bring to school. “Well, I ain’t got no fifty cents this morning” (Hansberry 28). In short, the quote from A Raisin in the Sun shows that the Youngers cannot afford to give Travis even a small amount of money. The reason for this is that Walter is the main breadwinner of the family. The rest of the Youngers who work are women of color, so in the 1950’s it is quite difficult for them to get a high-paying job. Mainly, the quote is trying to explain that, even though Ruth can afford to give Travis the money, she doesn’t, because the family is trying to save every last dollar. It seems obvious now that the Youngers cannot currently achieve their American Dream because of their lack of money. This relates to Of Mice and Men, because George and Lennie are also stuck in a trap. That further signifies the importance of the American Dream in each text. The element of author’s craft in this quote seems to be hyperbole, as Ruth seems to be exaggerating about how they do not have fifty cents. In both stories, the main characters cannot break free from their financial crises. This evidence proves that wealth is an essential portion of the American Dream. Without wealth, many would not aim for their current aspirations today. Even more than wealth, family is a mightily important part of the American Dream; it gives people others to celebrate in times of joy and to support in times of struggle. This quote occurs at the very beginning of Of Mice and Men. It is George scolding Lennie for drinking out of a dirty looking puddle, “‘Lennie!’ he said sharply. ‘Lennie, for God’ sakes don’t drink so much.’ Lennie continued to snort into the pool. The small man leaned over and shook him by the shoulder. ‘Lennie. You gonna be sick like you was last night'” (Steinbeck 2). This further signifies that George is the adult in this relationship, and he has to keep Lennie in line. This took place when George and Lennie stopped to take a drink. After the quote, Lennie tells George to drink, too. In this quote, George is acting like an adult and telling Lennie not to drink from the puddle. Lennie drinks anyway, so George pulls him out and scolds him again, for getting himself sick again. The main idea of this quote is that George is responsible for Lennie’s actions, and that George is much more mature than Lennie. This relates to George and Lennie’s American Dream; to own their own farm and live off the fatta’ the lan’. Without their bond, George and Lennie would not be able to cooperate to achieve their American Dream. In A Raisin in the Sun, Ruth and Mama both act more mature than Walter, who is just focused on the liquor store. This is another example of family being the vital element that holds people together. Finally, the last sentence of the quote demonstrates a hyperbole, in that George may be exaggerating to get Lennie to stop drinking from the puddle. There is even more evidence for this in A Raisin in the Sun. This quote occurs when Mr. Lindner comes to the Youngers’ apartment to offer them money in exchange for them leaving Clybourne Park, “‘Get out.’ ‘Well – I’m sorry it went like this.’ ‘Get out'” (Hansberry 119). This quote has multiple speakers, Walter and Lindner. This is a section of the page in which Mr. Lindner is trying to convince them not to move to Clybourne Park. This quote explains that the Younger family would rather move to Clybourne Park than to accept money in exchange for not moving. It shows that the Youngers’ opinions are not easily changed. The main idea of this quote is that the Younger family is very persistent at their goals. They will not let anything get in their way. This is in fact tied to the Youngers’ American Dream. Mama bought a house and improved life for the whole family, meaning that Mama believes in family and shows that in her daily choices. In Of Mice and Men, George shows many of the same characteristics. George protects Lennie, as well as sharing values with him. The idea of family is important in both texts. Perhaps Americans’ greatest wish when it comes to the American Dream – family. It outweighs everything else Americans could dream of. Finally, self improvement may not be in everyone’s American Dream, but it is vitally important for many people in America to strive for. This quote in Of Mice and Men on page 7 shows George encouraging Lennie and praising him for becoming smarter and having more common sense when they were on their way to the ranch, “‘Good boy! That’s fine, Lennie! Maybe you’re gettin’ better'” (Steinbeck). This Of Mice and Men quote explains that George is starting to think higher of Lennie. Lennie is building common sense, which makes him seem less like the inner child that he is. The main point of this quote is to tell the reader that the bond between George and Lennie is getting stronger. The American Dream is evident in this section of the book. Part of George’s dream seems to be for Lennie to think for himself. That way, George won’t have to do all of the thinking for them. This relates to A Raisin in the Sun, in the sense that the Youngers are trying to bring themselves closer together after a conflict in the story. There may have been some sort of hyperbole in the quote, but only if George is exaggerating when he compliments Lennie for his intelligence. There are examples of self-improvement in both texts. For example, this quote from A Raisin in the Sun is told by Beneatha when Mama gets back home, “‘Oh – Mama – they don’t do it like that any more. He talked Brotherhood. He said everybody ought to learn how to sit down and hate each other with good christian fellowship'” (Hansberry 121). The whole family ends up pitching in and telling her what Lindner said. In essence, this quote summarizes what Lindner says to the Youngers while Mama is out. Beneatha seems to talk to Mama in a slightly sarcastic voice, implying that the Youngers do not believe in what Lindner has to say. The main idea of this quote is that Beneatha, in particular, does not feel that Lindner’s opinion is valid. She believes in integration and racial equality. The American Dream includes self improvement; pushing people like Lindner takes personal values and self-control. The Youngers were defending their recently improved selves by pushing Lindner away. In Of Mice and Men, Lennie attains another level of self-improvement and common sense when he steps into Crooks’s room while the other ranchers go out into town. There may be some hyperbolic phrases in this quote where Beneatha says, “everybody ought to learn … and hate each other,” (Hansberry 121). In the end, for some, self improvement is very valuable; for those who are mentally, physically or emotionally damaged, it may be a much higher priority. Lastly, the American Dream is subjective in these two texts. It is viewed differently from different authors, which is important to what ideas make it up. This quote occurs on page 7 of Of Mice and Men, being told by George, who is starting to really imagine what it would be like to live in that dream. “‘O.K. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together . . .'” (Steinbeck). In Of Mice and Men, this quote states that George and Lennie are committed to their dream. They want it to happen so that they can live off the fatta’ the lan’; that will make them much happier to be self-sufficient. The main idea of this example is that George says, “we’re gonna get the jack together” (Steinbeck 7), which means that Steinbeck wants the characters to work with diligence and determination towards their dream. The American Dream is a central point in Of Mice and Men, so it is directly tied to this quote. George and Lennie want to work hard towards their American Dream, which drives the rest of the plot. This also follows in A Raisin in the Sun, where Walter and others work hard at their jobs to reach their American Dream, with Mama’s check giving them a boost. This quote, of course, was a hyperbole itself. George and Lennie never did achieve their American Dream. Comparatively to the last example, in this A Raisin in the Sun quote, Ruth explains how the Youngers can achieve their dreams together. “Honey…life don’t have to be like this. I mean sometimes people can do things so that things are better…You remember how we used to talk when Travis was born…about the way we were going to live…the kind of house…” (Hansberry 64). This example in A Raisin in the Sun shows that Ruth aspires to be something better than she currently is. She tries to get Walter to follow the same path and dream as her. The main point of this quote is to show that the Youngers can achieve their goals if they work together. Ruth is trying to say that, maybe, their family can easily improve their lives. The American Dream is an essential part of this quote, because Ruth is trying to get her family to help her better the living conditions for themselves. This relates to Of Mice and Men, when George, Lennie and Candy want to work hard to get their American Dream, but in A Raisin in the Sun, the focus is less about making enough money and more about family togetherness. Steinbeck and Hansberry are writing texts containing characters the same goal in mind – to achieve their American Dream. Both Steinbeck and Hansberry’s ways of achieving that are valid; just not the same. In conclusion, the American Dream can be broken down into three parts: Wealth, Family, and Self Improvement. These are shown in the novels Of Mice and Men and A Raisin in the Sun. When one dreams, he often thinks of wealth; the power to go anywhere, do anything. He also thinks of his family, and how they have guided him through life and how he could not live without them. Furthermore, he dreams of being his best self; having qualities that society considers important. This idea is vital to success because it shows the ideas that one must believe in in order to fulfill their dream. Without wealth, family or self improvement, the American Dream is unattainable in today’s society. However, a powerful combination of these three central ideas, if embraced and never forgotten, may lead the pathway to the American Dream. A balance is required between these attributes in order to achieve success. Works CitedHansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. Vintage Books, 1958.Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Penguin Books, 1993.


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