Discuss the relevance of George's tirade against Lennie regarding the ketchup from the first section in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I had to cut down the question.  The questions you raised were all good and I hope you are able to repost them separately.  I thought that George's tirade in the first section is really quite powerful.  We gain much from it about both Lennie and George.  The most dominant impression gained from it is that George finds himself trapped between the world of what is and what could be.  To a great extent, this eats at him.  When Lennie suggests that ketchup is what he likes to have with his beans, it is another pain- ridden example to George of what could or might be, but what will never be given their economic and social situation.  It is another reminder of their shared hopelessness.  This is what drive George's anger and his frustration.  Another element that comes out of the tirade is that George has assumed responsibility for Lennie.  The tone of the tirade mirrors that of a parent becoming frustrated with a child.  George recognizes his role as caretaker for Lennie, and the realities of this condition causes him to feel frustrated.  George must follow through on a promise to look out for Lennie, and this is another burden for him.  At a time, when it was better for people to move from job to job in an unattached manner, George's anger about the ketchup is reflective of the larger issue that he will always be tethered to Lennie.  In the end when George says out of exasperation, "I got you," it is a reminder to George that his lot in life is to be with Lennie, and that this reality is inescapable.

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Of Mice and Men

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