The American Dream
Another interesting theme running through the book is the pursuit of the American Dream.
Interpretation #1: Corporations are bad. Landowners are bad. Capitalism is bad. Rich people are bad. Migrant workers are noble.
Interpretation #2: Of course George doesn't achieve the American Dream--he spends all his money on booze and prostitutes.
Interpretation #3: The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights embody the American Dream. The question that must be answered is do George and Lennie possess these rights in the context of their society?
Let's begin with life. Lennie loses his right to life, unfairly. He obviously needs help. He cannot survive in the world due to his mental handicap. For this reason, Lennie does not have his right to life upheld.
There is, however, nothing preventing George from enjoying the right to life. Both men have the liberty to dream and work where they can find it; their liberty, however, is limited by two things:
(1) outside forces, often hostile, which dictate to them what they can and cannot do;
(2) George's vices, without which George would be able to save enough money to buy his dream property, assuming of course this property exists. Both men are free to pursue, happiness, symbolized by their dream of owning their own piece of land.
In short, George prevents George from achieving his dream. No matter how tough things are and no matter how much we admire his loyalty to Lennie, we cannot overlook his faults. Lennie, on the other hand, is deprived his rights by unfair mob rule and a mentor who squanders his opportunity through vice.