“O.K. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—”
“An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that, George.”
Readers first hear of George and Lennie’s farm when George and Lennie arrive in Salinas and spend the night in the woods by the river before starting work at the new ranch. After arguing about the challenges that Lennie brings into George’s life, George begins to feel bad, and Lennie senses his advantage and immediately asks George to tell him about their dream farm. Right from this first description, it’s clear that George and Lennie’s farm symbolizes their dream, a hope, and a light in their difficult, often hopeless life as migrant ranch workers. In these lines, George and Lennie almost rhythmically retell descriptions of the life they desire as a way of grasping at hope and comfort during times of instability and challenge. When George declares that they’re “gonna have a little house and a couple of acres,” he immediately defines how land ownership is truly the dream of most farm workers at this time.
His voice was growing warmer. “An’ we could have a few pigs. I could build a smoke house like the one gran’pa had, an’ when we kill a pig we can smoke the bacon and the hams, and make sausage an’ all like that.” . . .
Lennie watched him with wide eyes, and old Candy watched him too. Lennie said softly, “We could live offa the fatta the lan’.”
After George warns Lennie about Curley and Curley’s wife as they wait in the bunkhouse, Lennie—most likely upset with their living situation—asks George, “How long’s it gonna be till we get that little place?” This dream farm again symbolizes George and Lennie’s escape from their reality; it exists in their minds as a comfort they can turn to when they feel scared, insecure, or hopeless. Every time George describes the farm, he seems to become entranced as he adds new, unrealistic details to the fantasy. In fact, George and Lennie are so immersed in their dream that they don’t realize that Candy, who is also looking for some hope in his bleak life, is listening to their description of the farm.
“Maybe if I give you guys my money, you’ll let me hoe in the garden even after I ain’t no good at it. An’ I’ll wash dishes an’ little chicken stuff like that. But I’ll be on our own place, an’ I’ll be let to work on our own place.” . . .
George stood up. “We’ll do her,” he said. “We’ll fix up that little old place an’ we’ll go live there.” He sat down again. They all sat still, all bemused by the beauty of the thing, each mind was popped into the future when this lovely thing should come about.
Here, Candy asks if he can join in George and Lennie’s plan to own a small farm, ultimately turning their dream into a possible reality since he has money to contribute. “They all sat still, all bemused by the beauty of the thing” because the three men realize that this plan now has real possibility. The dream farm now symbolizes the same hope and light to Candy as it has in the past to George and Lennie. In addition, Candy explains his fear of becoming useless as he ages and how this farm symbolizes a permanent place where he will belong and can contribute. However, as Candy becomes a part of this dream, it leaves George and Lennie’s dream farm vulnerable to destruction because it no longer exists in the bubble of George and Lennie’s minds but has become a more real thing that can actually be taken away.
“I seen too many guys with land in their head. They never get none under their hand.”
Candy cried, “Sure they all want it. Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ som’thin’ that was his . . . But we gonna do it now, and don’t make no mistake about that . . . Me an’ Lennie an’ George. We gonna have a room to ourself. We’re gonna have a dog an’ rabbits an’ chickens. We’re gonna have green corn an’ maybe a cow or a goat.”
When Lennie and Candy reveal their plans regarding the dream farm to Crooks, Crooks brings a reality check to the men by reminding them that most people don’t achieve their dreams of land ownership. However, when Candy persists and continues to describe this possible dream farm to Crooks, a glimmer of hope and possibility even spreads to Crooks, and soon after, he asks to join in their plan. Now, George and Lennie’s farm symbolizes hope and possibility in an impossible situation. Unfortunately, Curley’s wife enters the scene soon after and destroys any confidence Crooks has of escaping his reality, foreshadowing the fragility and destruction of this dream farm.
Now Candy spoke his greatest fear. “You an’ me can get that little place, can’t we, George? You an’ me can go there an’ live nice, can’t we, George? Can’t we?”
Before George answered, Candy dropped his head and looked down at the hay. He knew.
George said softly, “—I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we’d never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would.”
Here, Candy and George stand shocked over Curley’s wife’s dead body, contemplating what to do next. In these brief but quiet moments, Candy asks the question that everyone, including the reader, wants answered, even though they already know the response. In this dialogue between Candy and George, George and Lennie’s farm, once the symbol of their hope and dreams, now symbolizes the destruction of a dream, their destroyed hope, and the loss of a friendship that made George and Candy believe in the possibility of their dream. Here, George admits that, deep down, he always knew that the farm would never be a reality but that now, without Lennie, it can’t even be a dream.