Of Mice and Men: The American Dream
The seeds of the “American Dream” was planted in the 17th Century, when the first settlers arrived in America escaping persecution or poverty in hope of a better life, but the birth of the American dream did not arise about until Declaration of Independence, 4th July 1776: “all men are created equal, .. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Statue of Liberty, given as a gift from France (1886) to celebrate the freedom sought, still remains has an icon of American freedom;
But like all things holly, the dream is blemished with imperfections : slavery remained US until 1865, Women rights did not exist until 1920, Civil Right Act (equal opportunity) was not enforced until 1964, The Dream, like the Venus fly trap, lures its preys then seals and traps them. It is this dilemma that draws writes to write about these casualties of hope.
John Steinbeck, a social reformer and writer, who grew up in California -near Saline, fictionalises the plights of socially undesirables, and in doing so gives history a face. During the 1930s, just after the “roaring twenties”, the Great Depression set in –Black Tuesday (October 29th 1929). Poverty, leading to over farming of the land, combined with the seven-year draught resulted in the breakdown of the farming industry and the introduction of state run labour camps. The “Dust Bowl migrants” (also known by the belittling name “Okies”) travelled westwards, towards California, looking for a better fertile land; in hope of a better life. This was a ripe time for social reformers; The misery of poverty could not only be witnessed by those with eyes, but also those blinded with self-interest and greed.
Steinbeck was recruited by the liberal San Francisco News to publicize the benefits of government camps such as Arvin camp (later called Weedpatch). His 1937 novel, “Of Men and Mice”, explores the futile dreams of the last of migrant workers. The title of the novel is part of a line...