In the book Of Mice and Men, how does the relationship between George and Lennie evolve? (with specific passages)

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In one sense, the dynamics of the relationship between George and Lennie does NOT change except at the very end of the narrative; however, in the sense of their overall history together, they have developed a real and lasting fraternal relationship. 

  • Dynamics of George/Lennie relationship

When George and Lennie first enter the clearing in Chapter 1, George walks ahead of Lennie and is obviously the more dominant of the pair as Lennie is child-like in his speech and actions. Later, he is scolded for playing with a dead mouse, and when they eat, Lennie is upset that they have no ketchup for the beans that are their supper.
As the evening progresses, again like an older brother, George gives Lennie strict instructions to not talk when they meet the new boss at the ranch the next day:

"If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are, we won't get no job, but if he sees ya work before he hears ya talk, we're set. Ya got that?"
"Sure, George. Sure I got it."

George has Lennie repeat over and over the instructions about not speaking so that he will not forget. And, he tells Lennie, "An' you ain't gonna do no bad things like you done in Weed, neither." Then George reflects that Lennie has been an encumbrance to him as he has gotten them into trouble on jobs. He tells Lennie that if he did not have to watch out for him, he could have a girlfriend and go into the towns and drink. But, when a hurt Lennie says that he will just go off somewhere, George apologizes, "I been mean, ain't I?"  He tells Lennie to stay, saying someone would shoot Lennie, and his Aunt Clara would not want him running off, anyway. (In Chapter 3, when George talks frankly with Slim, he echoes these same sentiments about his sense of responsibility for Lennie.)

At this point, Lennie speaks "craftily," asking George to recite the "dream" of owning a little farm with rabbits to pet. George's voice grows "deeper" as he speaks of how the other bindle stiffs have no one who cares about them.

"We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us....we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an'a cow and some pigs and--"

Lennie finishes the recitation: "An live off the fatta the lan'...An' have rabbits...."

This friendship and hope for a future is what sustains George and Lennie as they migrate from job to job. It is, unfortunately, only in the final chapter that this hope and the dream of a ranch dies after Lennie inadvertently breaks Curley's wife's neck. 

  • Fraternal relationship

It is when George converses with Slim, whose "god-like eyes" see more than most men's, that George's love for Lennie is revealed as he tells Slim, "We kinda look after each other....It's a lot nicer to go around with a guy you know." He tells Slim that they are both from the same town, and that he promised Lennie's aunt that he would look out for him."He 's jes' like a kid," George adds.

When George learns that Lennie has inadvertently broken Curley's wife's neck, he is greatly saddened and worried about what Curley and the others will do. Immediately, he tells Candy that Lennie did not kill her in "meanness." In despair, he also says that he has always known that they would never get their ranch. 
When George catches up with Lennie, Lennie confesses, "I done another bad thing." But, George tells him, "It don't make no difference." His voice is shaky as he asks Lennie to remove his hat; he begins to recite their dream. He also tells Lennie that he is not angry with him.

"I ain't mad. I never been mad, an' I ain't now. That's a thing I want ya to know."

And, then, because he cannot stand for Lennie to be put in an asylum or a prison, George shoots his friend. Only Slim understands what really has happened; he tells George, "You hadda, George. I swear you hadda."