Failed Dreams. Social Injustice In ‘Of Mice And Men´ And ‘Animal Farm.´ Essay, Research Paper
When Europeans left Europe for America they were told that everyone would be landowner, they would live like kings and the streets were paved with gold. Everybody would live equally. This was a wonderful dream for the Europeans fleeing from the class system of their home countries. ‘Mice and Men´ shows us how far this dream is from reality. There is four examples I´m using to show how different it was, George, Crooks, Curly’s wife and Candy.
Georges dream is to own a farm or a ranch of his own so he could be his own boss and wouldn´t have to be pushed round by other ranch owners who he works for now.
He says to George,
“We´re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an´ a cow and some pigs…”
Its likely that before the depression that George lived of owned his own farm and was happy there because he was his ‘own man´ and he could do what he wanted when he wanted.
Because of this dream George resents authority, when he first meets Curly, the ranch owners son, he spoke to him in an ‘insulting manner´ and refuses to give Curly a straight answer.
His life as a farm worker is very hard, he works every day except Sunday and only gets fifty dollars a week. All week the farm workers would toil the land for the ranch owners and would be paid a tiny percentage of the profit. They were very lonely people, with only their colleagues at the ranch and the women at the local ‘cat house´ for company, no wife, children and no family. George recognizes this and I think this is why he travels with Lennie, George says,
“Guys like us who work on ranched are the loneliest guys in the world.”
George thinks that when he has his dream he wont be lonely and more, he maybe would ‘get a girl´ and he would be happy.
George also dreams of a better place for Lennie who is mentally about 6 years old, George take it on himself on himself to look after Lennie and rescue him when he gets in trouble, which is very often. When Lennie had just ‘accidentally’ killed someone, George decides to put Lennie out of his ‘misery’ and kill him. Just before he does he tells Lennie,
“Ever´bodys gonna be nice to you. Ain´t gonna be no more trouble. Nobody gonna hurt anybody nor steal from ‘em.”
This is Georges dream for Lennie, that he would be better cared for and nobody would be horrible to him and he wouldn´t get into any more trouble. That people would take time to understand him like he did.
Crooks dream is to be treated like a human and be accepted. Because he´s black he’s always been bullied and picked on by the other people in the ranch. He is never allowed to go out with the other people in the ranch and has to stay in his own room in the barn, he hates everyone at the ranch because they treat him badly, he says to Lennie,
“They play cards in there, but I can´t play because I´m black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all stink to me.”
Because Crooks is so lonely he reads a lot, in his library he owns the book California Civil code 1905. I think he has this because he wants to find out the rights he has and if there is anything he can do to be accepted.
While talking to Lennie, Crooks reminisces of his childhood. How his father owned a chicken ranch and the white children used to come and he would play with them, and how most of them didn´t care about the colour of his skin and that they were nice to him. How of instead of how he slept all alone now, he used to sleep with his two brothers, he recalls.
“They was always near me, always there. Used to sleep right in the same room, right in the same bed-all three.”
He was happy in the past, dignified, because he wasn´t alone and he was treated equally.
Curley´s wife, in the whole novel we never hear her name, and is always referred to as Curley´s wife. This makes her sound like she is Curley´s property, like Curley´s shoes or Curley´s horse. I also says that maybe she doesn´t deserve one, that when she married Curley she got a name. This reflects on her dream of equal rights for women.
She is a very lonely person; she has no one to talk to except the men on the ranch who don´t really listen to her. So to make them listen to her, or pretend to in most cases, she dresses provocatively to get attention. However Candy and Whit see her as a ‘tart´ and ‘jail-bait´ and she´s always giving the ‘eye´. Even Curly doesn´t notice her; he still goes out to the ‘cat houses´ with the other ranch workers, instead of staying with his wife. She seems to be hurt by this, she says. “Think I don´t know where they all went? Even Curley. I know where they all went.”
Curley´s wife´s dream is to be a star, when she was young, she was asked to go on a show, but her mother wouldn´t let her. Film work was one of the few types of work you could get as a woman, it was every girls dream, but it was often only a scam to take advantage of young women. Curley´s wife remembers how a man in the ‘pitchers’ said he was going to write to her about being in the movies. But she says her mother stole the letter when it came, when really it didn´t come at all.
When Lennie killed her the writer says.
“The meanness and….. the ache for attention were all gone from her face.”
This means that she didn´t have to try anymore and life wasn´t just one long struggle for recognition. She had been released and was now more beautiful and alive than ever. Maybe it also means that she would get the attention now, she would be known as the woman who got killed by a mad man.
Candy´s dream is to have security. Security in his job, that he wont be sacked because he´s getting too old, or because he´s useless because he´s only got one hand, this normally wouldn´t effect someone now but in the time the book was set Candy´s chance of getting a job if he was sacked from the ranch would be minute.
Because of this insecurity Candy is very scared of Curly and the boss. In the book when Curly first meets George he speaks nicely about the boss and said that a Christmas he gave them whisky. I think he lied to George about the boss in case George told the boss what he had said which would have been true but nasty. When the boss comes into the room Candy quickly makes up and excuse why he’s talking to George and Lennie and gets back to work. He did this because he doesn´t want to get in any trouble with the boss because the boss might sack him. Then Candy will have no job and will be too old to get another one and he cant retire and he doesn’t have any family to go to he´ll probably have to live on the streets. When Lennie accidentally tells Candy about George’s dream Candy wants to go along and be involved to. Now Candy thinks he’s going to be leaving the ranch soon to go with George to his dream farm, his attitude towards Curly, the Boss and Curly´s wife changes.
When Curly is starting on Lennie, Curly quickly rushes to his defence.
‘“Glove fulla Vaseline,” he said disgustedly´
Referring to the glove Curly wears on his hand full of Vaseline, to keep ‘soft´ for his wife. He is not scared of Curly and the boss anymore because if he gets sacked he can just move on to George´s dream farm.
With Candy´s newfound confidence he starts sharing his views and sticking up for other people such as Crooks the black stable buck. Curly´s wife is verbally attacking Crooks, telling him how she can get him killed if she wanted too. Candy retaliates by saying,
“If you was to do that, we´d tell… We´d tell about you framing Crooks.”
He sticks up for Crooks, which shows he wasn´t racist and that he also had a dream for a better society. Where is you have worked and are getting old you would have money, a pension, and that everyone is treated equally like him and Crooks. This shows that the book reflects the time its set because Candy would probably have a pension and wouldn´t have been able to get sacked without out a just cause.
All these dreams failed, George will never get his farm with Lennie, Crooks and Curly´s wife will never have equal rights to a white man and Candy will always be in fear of losing his job.
In Animal farm there was also a failed dream.
Old Major´s dream was a noble one. His intentions were for every animal at Manor Farm to have much more food, less work and freedom. However to achieve this dream they would have to overthrow the cruel and unjust Mr Jones the Farmer, he made them work hard, gave then little food, beat them with a whip and spent all his time getting drunk instead of caring for his poor animals.
Unity was key in the animal´s plans; so, just before Old Major died he taught the animals a song of the rebellion called ‘Beasts of England´. It painted of a picture of a better future for the animals, where humans would treat them as slaves no more, where animals would work for each other and not selfish man.
However this righteous ambition turns sour because of Napoleon´s regime. He and his group of follower pigs, to fit to their needs, distorted the song ‘Beasts of England´. At first the animals sung ‘Beasts of England´ in union, they sung it at meetings, when they worked; they spread the song to other farms to encourage rebellion. It kept the animal in touch with the purpose of Animal farm and kept their spirits up by telling of better times ahead. Then it mutated into a ceremonial song; the animals would salute the flags and sing ‘Beasts of England´, like a national anthem for Animal farm.
Later on in the book the animals realise that what animal farm has become, was not what Old Majors dream. It was not their fellow animals slaughter, or the domination of the pigs. They sung their anthem here ‘very tunefully, but slowly and mournfully,´ like a funeral march for Old Majors dying dream. After the animals had finished singing their sorrowful lament, squealer announced that ‘Beasts of England´ was to be abolished. He gave the excuse that ‘Beasts of England´ was a song for rebellion and now the rebellion was over they needed a new song. I think the pigs changed the song because it was a rebellion song, and now the pigs had the society they wanted, a rebellion song might lead to actual rebellion and they didn´t want that. At the end the animals dared not sing it aloud, but instead hummed it, it made them proud of Animal Farm.
After the rebellion the pigs (who were the cleverest) created some commandments, based on the philosophy of Animal Farm. The commandments were all anti-human and pro-animal equality. One of the commandments was ‘Whatever goes on four legs or has wings is a friend.´ Napoleon had used this commandment to his advantage. When he would have violent arguments with Snowball about the running of the farm the sheep, silently ‘encouraged´ by Napoleon, would start bleating ‘Four legs good, Two legs bad.´ to drown out Snowballs speeches and work to his advantage. The sheep stupidness and willingness to follow orders also came in useful for Napoleon when he and the other pigs started to walk on two legs. Squealer had taken the herd away to teach them, instead of saying “four legs good, two legs bad.” He taught them to say “Two legs better” when the two legged pigs made their appearance.
The animals on the farm were also not allowed to wear clothes. As was personified in the commandment ‘No animal shall wear clothes.´ However the pigs abused this commandment as well. When the pigs had their complete power over the farm they started wearing clothes. The book says: ‘Napoleon appeared in a black coat, rat-catcher breeches and leather leggings.´ They didn´t have to change the commandments this time because it already said, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Another commandment was that animals were not allowed to sleep in a bed; the pigs also broke this commandment and subsequently changed it. When the pigs first moved in they started sleeping in the beds, not many animals were bothered by this fact, but Clover distinctly remembered a command that ruled against it. She went to the barn to find out but on the end of the old commandment there was an addition. The full commandment read, “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets”. Clover passed this off as something she didn´t remember. The pigs changed this obviously to fit in with them sleeping in beds, to try and dignify this act against Animal Farm Squealer said, “A pile of straw in a stall is a bed.”
At the beginning of animal farm the commandments also stated that drinking alcohol was forbidden, but when the pigs discovered a crate of whiskey in the farmhouse cellar. The commandment was forgotten and the pigs enjoyed a night getting drunk on the contraband. The next day that commandment was also changed to allow the pigs to have their whiskey. The new commandment said, “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.”
On the farm the animals were also not allowed to kill any other animal. However when times were hard in the farm and they needed grain the pigs asked the chickens to give up their eggs to sell in order to get some grain. The chickens didn´t want this they called it murder. They decided to smash their eggs in protest but Napoleon was having none of it he immediately stopped their rations. The chickens held out for five days but unfortunately nine hens died in the process.
Later on in the story when four pigs are confessing about being in touch with snowball and plotting with him, lots of other confessions come out. At the end all the confessors has their thoughts ripped out by Napoleons dogs and as I said previously killing was forbidden and the pigs had broken this law. The animals didn´t seem to mind, this was all the name of the rebellions. So the commandment didn´t have to be changed.
One of the commandments is ‘Whatever goes on two legs is an enemy.´ So humans were obviously enemies, this commandment was carried out until (near the end of the story) the pigs started walking on two legs! They strolled around the yard to the accompaniment of the sheep bleating ‘Four legs good, two legs better!´ other animals on the farm were astonished and scared of the pigs. Clover the horse lead Benjamin the donkey to where the commandments were written on the wall, but there instead of the seven commandments was only one it read, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
In the end the animals see the pigs talking with the humans, the book says ‘The creatures looked from pig to man and man to pig…but already it was impossible to tell the difference. This means that the pigs have turned into humans and that they were as bad, tyrannical and selfish as the men they had set out to banish from their lives.
I think a saying that goes well with animal farm is ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely´ the pigs had a taste of power and found they liked it and wanted more.
I think the message in both novels is ‘ Building heaven on Earth is can´t be done.´ In both books someone had a dream for a better life for themselves and others, but also in both books other peoples opposite dreams tarnished their dream. In Animal Farm Major´s dream went full circle to Jones dream, this shows how badly wrong things can go. So heaven on earth can´t be done because heaven is different for everyone.