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"He was so little," said Lennie. "I was jus playin’ with him… an’ he made like he’s gonna bite me… an’ I made like I was gonna smack him … an’… an’ I done it. An’ then he was dead. She consoled him. "Don’t you worry none. He was jus’ a mutt. You can get another one easy. The whole country is fulla mutts." (5.25-26)
Tell us one more time that Lennie's peaceful and harmless? Here he is again retaliating against an animal maybe 1/32nd of his size.
"I tell you I ain't used to livin' like this. I coulda made somethin' of myself." She said darkly, "Maybe I will yet." And then her words tumbled out in a passion of communication, as though she hurried before her listener could be taken away. "I lived right in Salinas," she said. "Come there when I was a kid. Well, a show come through, an' I met one of the actors. He says I could go with that show. But my ol' lady wouldn' let me. She says because I was on'y fifteen. But the guy says I coulda. If I'd went, I wouldn't be livin' like this, you bet." (5.34)
Making it big in Hollywood may have been a fairly new American Dream in the 1930s, but it was definitely around. Just the special effects weren't quite as awesome.
"Then—it’s all off?" Candy asked sulkily. George didn’t answer his question. George said, "I’ll work my month an’ I’ll take my fifty bucks an’ I’ll stay all night in some lousy cat house. Or I’ll set in some poolroom til ever’body goes home. An’ then I’ll come back an’ work another month an’ I’ll have fifty bucks more." (5.79-80)
At the end of the novel, George isn't any closer to his little slice of the American pie. In fact, he's farther away than ever, looking forward to a life of cat houses and pool rooms. That may be a fourteen-year-old boy's American Dream, but it's no life for a grown man. Unfortunately, it's the only life he knows.