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Describe Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men.

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FanOfSecrets | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 1, 2013 at 12:18 PM via web

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Describe Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted November 1, 2013 at 1:49 PM (Answer #1)

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Though Lennie and George are close friends and travelling companions, they are completely different in nearly all respects. The first portrayal that we are given of them stresses this contrast. George is 'small', 'quick', 'restless', and 'sharp' while Lennie is explicitly presented as his 'opposite'.  Lennie is 'huge' (although, in a comic touch, his surname is 'Small'). While George is said to have a 'defined' figure Lennie is referred to as being 'shapeless' in form. He moves slowly and ponderously:

He walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. (chapter 1)

Lennie is thus compared to a bear; and this use of animal imagery to describe him is significant. Lennie is animal-like due to his lack of intellect, although he has a warm, affectionate nature, like a child. However, as he is unable to control his huge strength, he is also dangerous; like a bear, or some other such huge animal, he is capable of inflicting physical harm on others, as demonstrated throughout the book. His tragedy, though, is that he never means to hurt anybody, unlike other, supposedly more intelligent human beings - the belligerent Curley, for instance.

The opening external descriptions of these two men, George and Lennie, are therefore very revealing. George's swiftness of movement, his alert attitude, indicate his sharp, quick-thinking nature, while Lennie's slow, clumsy gait and gestures disclose his mental backwardness. 

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