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"…If I was bright, if I was even a little bit smart, I'd have my own little place, an' I'd be bringin' in my own crops, 'stead of doin' all the work and not getting what comes up outa the ground." (3.11)
George seems to think that he could achieve the elusive American Dream of having his "own little place" if he were just a little smarter. But from what we see, it has nothing to with smarts and everything to do with the odds being stacked against him. If everyone could achieve the American Dream, would it still be a dream?
Lennie watched him with wide eyes, and old Candy watched him too. Lennie said softly, "We could live offa the fatta the lan'."
"Sure," said George. "All kin's a vegetables in the garden, and if we want a little whisky we can sell a few eggs or something, or some milk. We'd jus' live there. We'd belong there. There wouldn't be no more runnin' round the country and gettin' fed by a Jap cook. No, sir, we'd have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house." (3.202-203)
Casual racism aside, notice that George and Lennie's little version of the American Dream includes a kind of masculine domesticity—no girls allowed.
Lennie hesitated, backed away, looked wildly at the brush line as though he contemplated running for his freedom. George said coldly, "You gonna give me that mouse or do I have to sock you?" (1.70)
Not much TLC here. But does Lennie respond to reason and coaxing? Or is violence the only way George can get a response out of him?