George and Lennie almost always fantasize about the ranch after some traumatic event or at the end of a long day, suggesting that they rely on their dreams as a kind of salve.
The dream of the ranch offers George, Lennie, Candy, and the others a goal to work toward as well as the inspiration to keep struggling when things seem grim.
For the characters in Of Mice and Men, dreams are useful because they map out the possibilities of human happiness.
Just as a map helps a traveler locate himself on the road, dreams help Lennie, George, and the others understand where they are and where they’re going.
However, the fact that they do dream—often long after the possibility of realizing those dreams has vanished—suggests that dreaming serves a purpose in their lives.
What the characters ultimately fail to see is that, in Steinbeck’s harsh world, dreams are not only a source of happiness but a source of misery as well.No one seems to understand this bitterness better than Crooks, whose sullen self-loathing is never stronger than when he lets himself believe in Lennie’s dream, only to be brutally reminded by Curley’s wife that he is not entitled to happiness in a white man’s world.Ultimately, the dreams of ranches and rabbits that George and Lennie treasure are the very things that undo them.Dreams turn the characters’ otherwise meandering lives into journeys with a purpose, as they take pride in actions that support the achievement of their dreams and reject actions that do not.Having a destination gives the men’s lives meaning.Seduced by how close he thinks he is to realizing his dream, George fools himself into thinking that Lennie can mind himself and stay out of trouble when past events confirm the contrary.In the end, George does not despair at Lennie’s death because the ranch is forever lost to him, but rather because his friend—the one good reality of his life, the one reality that redeemed George from worthlessness—is forever lost to him.At the end of the novel, George’s going off with Slim to “do the town” is more than an escape from grief. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. A guy needs somebody to be near him.” He whined, “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.It is ironic and a symbolic twist to his dream.” (Lisca 92) Despite George’s ritual rant about how he would carry on without Lennie, he feels no desire to pursue it after he kills Lennie at the end of the novel. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy `cause you was black. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you.In Of Mice and Men, it seems an incontrovertible law of nature that dreams should go unfulfilled.From George and Lennie’s ranch to Curley’s wife’s stardom, the characters’ most cherished aspirations repeatedly fail to materialize.