In Of Mice and Men, describe the ways in which Lennie and George are opposites of one another. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

George and Lennie differ in their physical appearance, mental abilities, personalities, and desires throughout the novella. George is described as being "small and quick," with a dark face, restless eyes, and strong features. In contrast, Lennie is a massive individual, who is described as having a shapeless face, pale eyes,...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

George and Lennie differ in their physical appearance, mental abilities, personalities, and desires throughout the novella. George is described as being "small and quick," with a dark face, restless eyes, and strong features. In contrast, Lennie is a massive individual, who is described as having a shapeless face, pale eyes, and sloping shoulders. Unlike George, who is an active, intense man, Lennie is rather lethargic and moves slowly. In regards to their intelligence, George is an acute, discerning man, who makes decisions for the two of them. Lennie is portrayed as mentally handicapped and relies on George to take care of him. George and Lennie also have different personalities. George is rather aggressive and outspoken, while Lennie is relatively quiet and passive. Lennie is rather docile but lacks self-control and relies on George to keep him in line. George is also more authoritative and has a short temper. In regards to their desires, George wishes to live a comfortable life, where he is in control of his fate and does not have to travel from farm to farm looking for work. Lennie is much easier to please and simply wants something furry to pet, preferably a rabbit.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the first few paragraphs, the narrator describes the physical characteristics of George and Lennie. These physical traits are similar to their personalities. Therefore, Lennie and George are opposites in physical stature, demeanor, and in terms of their personalities. 

The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose. Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. 

As they begin to converse, it becomes quickly apparent that George is the leader of the duo and Lennie is the follower. In fact, their relationship is quite similar to a parent-child relationship with George, of course, being the parent. Lennie lets his mind wander, often to the dream of having a farm and the rabbits. George shares this dream but his mind is always conscious of his environment. When Lennie is daydreaming about the rabbits, George is thinking about the next job and how to keep Lennie in line. In times of crisis or confrontation, Lennie panics and George keeps his head. They are opposites in almost every way except for the fact that they are both good people who look out for each other. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team