en and The Glass Menagerie Honors English 111 June 2003There are many symbols in the works of literature: Of Mice and Men and The Glass Menagerie. Many of these symbols have similar meanings, which makes the themes of both of these stories very comparable. Both have to do with The American Dream and how hard it is to achieve. There are characters in both stories that have cognate personalities and play similar roles. These two stories are very different in plot, but have many parallels in symbolism.
Both stories have symbols that represent their escape from reality, show a special love and commitment to another human being, the impossibility of the American Dream and demarcate certain characters from everyone else. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom, Lauras brother and Amandas son, leads a very hard life. He has to deal with the stress of supporting his mother and sister, working a job that he hates. His father left them, and that foreshadows what Tom will do when the movies and drinking arent a good enough escape for him anymore.
Toms escape from his hated lifestyle before he leaves Laura and his mother is the fire escape. He often leaves out of it to go to the movies, or he sits out there and drinks and smokes. Toms ability to sit out on the fire escape also anticipates his ability to easily escape from his life. Laura on the other hand, slips on the escape, symbolizing how she would not be able to leave her life and live out on her own. George and Lennies farm in Of Mice and Men represents the boys eventual escape. Whenever Lennie gets scared, George tells him stories of the wonderful farm where they will someday live. George promises Lennie that he can take care of the rabbits, even though Lennie is always too rough with them. Lennie and Georges image of this perfect life is what keeps them going. They are always facing trouble because of Lennies learning disability. Lennie doesnt know his own strength, and ends up killing two animals, a woman, and being accused of rape. When Lennie and George move to their farm, they can live there alone without having to worry about Lennie getting into any trouble. In the novel, Lennie dies before he even gets to live at this farm. When Lennie dies, it is apparent to the reader that their dream is not going to be achieved, and they will never get to escape to the farm. Lauras character and Lennies character are very similar in the way that neither of them will ever achieve their American Dream. Laura is too shy, fickle, and dependent to get out on her own and find a husband, and escape from her nagging mother. Laura has a crippled leg, and she slipped and fell on the fire escape one time. This symbolizes her inability to escape like her brother and achieve her dream. Lennies disability also prevents him from achieving his dream. When Curlys wife lets him touch her hair, he grabs on too tight, and she gets scared and screams. This startles Lennie, and he ends up killing her, trying to get her to be quiet. George is forced to kill Lennie, because he knows that Curly would have killed him if George didnt. As soon as the reader finds out that Curlys wife is dead, it is obvious that the dream of Lennie and George someday moving to their farm is unachievable. Although Lennie and Laura both have disabilities and are very dependent, they both have companions to take care of them. Lauras mother is always looking out for her, and trying to do what she thinks is best for Laura. She is always nagging Tom to find her a husband, and she wants Laura to be able to come out of her shell, and interact with others. George takes care of Lennie in a different way than Amanda takes care of Laura. George and Amanda are similar in their ways because they both want the best for Lennie and Laura. George doesnt try to help Lennie to achieve goals, and have aspirations of someday being independent, because he knows that will never happen. George takes care of Lennie the way that a mother would take care of a baby. He watches Lennies every move, and does his best to make sure that he stays out of trouble. George doesnt always like taking care of Lennie, and sometimes tells him this. Georges dedication shines through when he always ends up telling Lennie that he is sorry, and that he doesnt mind taking care of him much. It shows that George really cares when he tells Lennie stories of the farm. When George talks of the farm to Lennie, he is telling him that every thing is going to be alright someday, and that he will always be there for him. Another similarity between Laura and Lennie is the fact that they both are very interested in one certain thing that makes them stand out from other characters in the books. Laura is obsessed with her collection of glass, and Lennie really loves soft things, especially animals. Laura is represented by the glass unicorn that she has. Like Laura, the unicorn is different from all the other horses, because it has a horn. Unicorns are rare and special when seen in the right light, as Laura is. When Jim breaks the unicorn, she gives it to him because its like all the other horses. The unicorn is no longer special. When she gives the regular horse to Jim, that symbolizes that he took away her opportunity to be normal. He shows affection to her, and just when she thought her dream of getting married was achievable, it was shattered when she found out he was engaged. The puppy and mouse that Lennie kills both symbolize Lennies good intentions and the victory of the strong over the weak. Lennie kills these animals on accident, because he doesnt know his own strength. He loves the animals, and tries to show them love and affection. When he ends up hurting them, he is upset with himself, and ends up running to George for support. Like the puppy, Lennie is not aware of the dangers that surround him. Even though he is the biggest worker on the ranch, he is not the most dangerous, by far. His lack of intelligence more than makes up for his size, which foreshadows his inevitable fate. There are many symbols in both of the books that parallel each other. The theme of both books is the same: The inability to achieve the American Dream. Both characters face obstacles that in the end, are not able to be conquered. They both have people in their lives that care very much about them, but cant help them to achieve their dream. The symbols in both books illustrate the inability for Laura and Lennie to achieve their individual dreams.
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