In the 1930s, the American dream was an ideal of which almost every American took into consideration as to how they could live comfortably in America whether they’d come from nothing as an immigrant or were native to the US such as blacks or lower class whites. This dream, however, was practically impossible. The most popular dreams had to do with fame or wealth, especially when it came to farming or trading. People would lose hope, begin to give up, forget or stray away from their goals and eventually die not achieving anything productive. John Steinbeck, who began writing The Working Days in 1938, illustrates the American dream is an ideal that is unachieveable for most Americans through the characters’ failed goals in Of Mice and Men.
Curley’s wife was a woman who’d always wanted to live comfortably, so she pursued the life of a movie star. But as she came to realize that these goals are easier said than done, she meanwhile sought out another way to live comfortably. This postponed goal turned into her marriage with Curley, which to her was devastatingly unsatisfying. Crooks, on the other hand, was more on the communal side of comfortable living. Though he’d been isolated from his white co-workers, making him both proud and bitter from the mere fact of not only being denied his own dreams, but also seeing others come through his current work place with hopeless dreams of their own, he becomes very fond of Lennie and asks to come with them to hoe their garden. Little did Crooks know, but he would never get the chance to do so once Lennie dies.
Curley, not being one of neither community nor fame, he hopes to own his own land and become his own boss without the help of his father. Though he feels as though this dream is not a dream at all, but rather a reality, it will never happen. Through these failed dreams, Steinbeck shows how the ideal of the American dream is virtually impossible to attain.
Forthrightly, the concept of the American dream relates to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in a depiction of a sample of Americans. This sample can be related to the wide scale of Americans who believed in, tried and evidently failed said ideal. These many generalized failed goals gave the people of the Working Days little to hope for, yet they continuously strived towards them. Aiming for the best, they would buy land, put out for investments, or work on someone else’s land until they earned enough for their own. However when it never came, they began to lose hope and just continued to work until they were either unfit to work any longer or until they died.
For example, a character in Of Mice and Men, Candy, who was an aging worker on the farm which Lennie and George were beginning to work, had a bad hand and a dog who could no longer herd sheep. The two concepts are related because the dog was eventually put down and Candy would more than likely be fired by the end of the upcoming month due to his inability to work. As it came to show, most employers did not care much for their workers well being on the work site or whether they had somewhere to go or not once they were fired.
Another example of the improbability of the characters’ dreams was Curley’s promiscuous wife. She, in search for fame and fortune and eventually comfortable living, would find that those thoughts are not to be so easily attained. Due to the example of most aspiring actresses at this time, there was not always room for new talent, especially if said actress did not have much of any. This is simply more evidence to show why Steinbeck illustrated that the American dream was simply put; unachieveable. Yet while there were some situations where a farmhand or an immigrant became wealthy, such as President Andrew Jackson, giving their peers hope, there was soon to be known that it was not as easy as portrayed.
Conclusively, the history of the Working Days illustrated by John Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men was a depiction of failed life goals and life lessons learned throughout life in a realization that not all dreams can come true in a matter of neither years nor of a lifetime.