Migrant workers are those who travel around to different ranches looking for work. Many migrant workers have dreams of someday settling down and owning land of their own once they save up enough money. However, these dreams are rarely fulfilled. These issues are present in the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the short story “The Circuit” by Francisco Jimenez, and the poem “Hay for the Horses” by Gary Snyder. In Of Mice and Men, the protagonists George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California, have such a dream. They dream of having their own land, with “a little house and a couple of acres an’a cow and some pigs” (14). However, this dream is hindered by the actions of Lennie, who repeatedly gets into trouble on the ranches where George and Lennie find work. To foreshadow in the beginning of the book that Lennie will do something wrong at their next home, Steinbeck uses the image of the heron eating the water snake as symbolism. George, Lennie, and Candy are also discouraged by the other men on the ranch, who tell them they’re “just kidding [themselves). [They’ll] talk about it a hell of a lot, but [they] won’t get no land” (75).
Thus, their dreams are hindered by their employment as farm hands. In the poem “Hay for the Horses” the protagonist is in the same sort of situation as George and Lennie. He is coming in from a long drive to bring hay to the barn where he works, and is tired. The author uses sight and sound imagery to describe the barn, with its “splintery redwood rafters” (9) and “flecks of alfalfa /whirling through the shinglecracks of light” (10-11). The protagonist says he “sure would hate to [buck hay] all his life/ and…that’s just what [he’s] gone and done”” (20). Like George and Lennie, this man was somehow unable to fulfill his dreams of leaving the ranching business to live a better life. In the short story “The Circuit” by Francisco Jimenez, the protagonist Panchito and his family work on ranches, moving frequently to follow the work. Every year, when the strawberry-picking season is over, his family moves to Fresno to find work there. Panchito dreads the move, and “the thought of having to move to Fresno… brought tears to [his] eyes” (5).
After a few months in Fresno, he is able to stop working and go to school. On his first day, his teacher asks Panchito if he would like to learn to play the d Panchito eagerly agrees. He rushes home to tell his parents the good news, but when he gets there, he sees “everything that we owned neatly packed in cardboard boxes” (35), ready to move again. Francisco Jimenez strengthens this theme by using imagery to show how much Panchito despises his job. He describes the buzzing insects, the wet sweat, and the hot, dry dust” (21) that make picking grapes so unbearable. Also like George and Lennie, Panchito and his siblings never get the chance to stay in one place and get an education in order to make a better life for themselves due to their family being one of migrant workers. Panchito, George, Lennie, and the protagonist of “Hay for the Horses” are just a few examples of those whose dreams are cast aside by the duties of migrant farm working. Although they all have dreams of having a better future, those dreams are often in vain.