“Of Mice and Men” has been called a pessimistic novel. Do you agree? What can you find in the story that might be called optimistic or hopeful? I agree with this statement to a point but I do think there are some aspects of the story that could be described as optimistic or hopeful. An example of a pessimistic event in the story is the shooting of Candy’s dog. The idea that the dog is old and smelly and should therefore be shot as it can no longer carry out a purpose or function is a very pessimistic one indeed.
It seems that Steinbeck is suggesting that unless something has an obvious purpose or use it is worthless and is better off not existing. This in turn lends stock to make the reader wonder about the worth and value of their own lives and their purpose. Another example of a pessimistic aspect of this story is the way some of the characters allude to different way of life almost wistfully. For example Curley’s wife talks repeatedly about her chance for fame. I was gonna be in the movies”, she says this repeatedly, to anyone who listens long enough. She seems to be regretful about how her life played out and almost wishes she did have the chance to be “in the movies”. Another character who seems to do this to an extent is George. When he isn’t dreaming about having his own land, he moans about how different his life would be without Lennie. He seems so dissatisfied with his life and wishes for something different.
This is quite pessimistic because it illustrates the deeper, darker feelings of the characters. It is quite a depressing thing to read about that much unhappiness and regret among only a few people. However, there is one main optimistic point I feel has to be made. All the way through the story, whatever the situation, Lennie has a wonderful sense of hope about the farm they dream of owning. He amuses himself endlessly thinking about this farm and all the wonderful things they’ll be able to do there.
Even when he is in a dangerous situation (that eventually leads to his death) he is happy because he is thinking about his farm, looking after the rabbits and living “offa the fatta the land”. he keeps positive by visualising and focusing on how amazing this farm is going to be. He also manages to make some of the other characters in the story. He makes George talk about which makes him a lot more positive and enthusiastic. He lightens the mood by making the people he talks to enthuse and imagine a little piece of heaven they might one day be able to live on.