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How does Steinbeck use Lennie's and George's relationship in Of Mice and Men to convey...

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chunkeymonkey305 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 25, 2012 at 5:10 PM via web

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How does Steinbeck use Lennie's and George's relationship in Of Mice and Men to convey his ideas about America in the 1930s?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 25, 2012 at 6:36 PM (Answer #1)

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In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses Lennie's and George's relationship to convey ideas about America in the 1930s. George and Lennie were migrant agricultural workers on a California ranch. Lennie and George have to struggle to survive. They share a dream of owning their own farm someday. The dream of owning their own farm and farmhouse keeps them going in the hard times of the Great Depression. With the Great Depression of the 1930s, America was facing difficulties. Wages were low. Combines were replacing men. George and Lennie were fortunate when they found work. George and Lennie dream of "how they are someday going to get out of the lonely life of itinerant farm laborers and buy a piece of land where they can live by working their own small farm together."

Truly, life was lonely for the migrant agricultural workers. Fortunately, George and Lennie had each other to keep one another company. However, with their companionship, there were problems. Lennie was mentally challenged, and he kept George frustrated much of the time.

Lennie was a big man with the mentality of a child. Lennie in his child-like innocence never meant to harm anyone. Because of Lennie's tendency to get in trouble, George and Lennie were often on the run. They only dreamed of settling down one day and farming their own farm.

Of Mice and Men tells the story of two simple men who try to escape homelessness, economic poverty, and emotional and psychological corruption. Otherwise, the fate of those who do not abandon the lives they lead as itinerant workers is bleak and dehumanizing.

By the end of the story, Lennie has caused major problems. He accidentally kills Curley's wife. Because George would rather see Lennie dead than to hang at the hands of Curley, George shoots Lennie in the back of the head. Ironically, George is sharing his dream of having his own farm with Lennie as he is about to shoot Lennie. Lennie dies dreaming of a better life. In the 1930s, dreaming was all that a man had. Unfortunately, some dreams never came true. George gave up on his dream when he had to shoot his best friend Lennie. Life continued to be a lonely existence for George. 

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