AQA ENG LANG: Controlled Assessment Essay on Lennie and Dreams

  • Subject: English
  • Level: GCSE
  • Exam board: All boards
  • Author: Re-Re
  • Year created: 2012

Question:

How does Steinbeck present dreams and their effect on Lennie and one other character of your choice? Refer to these two characters in detail.

This was a controlled assessment task, and it was excellent, according to my english teacher. This is my draft - i attempted to memorise it for the C.A. Hope it helps, happy revising!

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Reianna Shakil 11FEnglish17/04/12
How does Steinbeck present dreams and their effect on Lennie and one other character of
your choice? Refer to these two characters in detail.
Steinbeck presents dreams In `Of Mice and Men' as a futile escape from the harsh reality of
ranch life. The main characters have dreams to escape their own wretched lives. For Lennie in
particular, dreams are expressed as an `alternate world' and a key component for escapism.
In contrast, Crooks views the dream with cynicism although he gets temporary mesmerised
by the beauty of the dream until he realises the undying truth - the dream is just a figurative
piece of `land in their head'.
Steinbeck's novel is all about the American Dream. It is a major motif and the drive to attain
it is clear through Lennie's and George's positive attitude towards life on the ranch, and their
shared dream of prosperity and independence. America is supposed to be a land built on
hope, and opportunity, promising independence, land and a decent living; so in theory,
anyone can become successful. Unfortunately, one would have to be born rich to get
through life comfortably. The dreams are unreal and they die. Steinbeck is saying that regular
people's dreams do not come true, contradictory of the American Dream; therefore making
a mockery out of it because in reality, it is just a dream.
The dream satisfies physical hunger as all the food they want will be right there in abundance.
George and Lennie are keen to use preservation methods such as catching salmon and wish
to `smoke `em' and growing tomatoes because `they're easy to can', in order to prolong the
splendour of the dream. They marvel at all kinds of luxurious food that they could have ­
`hams', `sausages', `cream' which is `so God damn thick' and `chicken', as well as their own
fruit and vegetable patches. The dream also fulfils emotional hunger ­ hunger for respect and
equality for Crooks and hunger for Lennie to tend animals and be like George.
Steinbeck presents Lennie as a powerful man with a childlike mind sense. He has grown up
physically, but he has not grown up mentally ­ Slim says `he's jes like a kid'. Lennie is
innocent and has no intention of causing harm. His innocence is also shown through his
inquisitiveness. He indentifies with animals ­ he looks like a bear, he walks like one ­ `he
walked heavily... the way a bear drags his paws.' He eats and drinks like an animal and he is
very possessive with cuddly animals and soft things. Lennie shows his physical affection by
petting animals. His Aunt Clara never showed affection towards him, which backfired on him
in later life. As a grown man, he has a burgeoning sex drive but as a young and innocently
minded man, he does not know how to control it, therefore foreboding bad things to
happen, `like what happened in Weed'.
The dream is used against Lennie as a control device by George, the paternal figure. He
recreates the dream and the family home and threatens to take it away if Lennie does
wrong. Lennie's main concern is to `tend the rabbits'. He repeatedly searches for
reassurance within George that he will be able to do this job. This exhibits the innocence and

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Reianna Shakil 11FEnglish17/04/12
simplicity of his mind. Lennie's life revolves solely around George and the dream, much like a
child ­ it is a central focus in his life, and George imagines its fruition.
Steinbeck suggests the importance of the dream via the emotion it evokes and the contrast
between this and the lack of positivity on the ranch. The ranch is only portrayed with
negative emotions such as anger, jealously and greed.

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Reianna Shakil 11FEnglish17/04/12
In conclusion, neither Lennie nor Crooks achieved their desired dreams which are illusions ­
Lennie's dream to live `off the fatta the lan'' and `tend the rabbits' and how someday they're
`gonna get the jack together'. Crooks fails to achieve his dreams of being treated like an
equal as a black man and being accepted by white people as having a place to belong, having
companionship and being respected by all.

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