Discuss the element of power in George and Lennie's relationship.

Expert Answers

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

George has power over Lennie in the sense that, unlike Lennie, he doesn't have any learning difficulties or disabilities. One could argue, then, that George's power derives from privilege. That doesn't mean, however, that George lords it over Lennie or that he dominates or controls him in any way because...

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 has power over Lennie in the sense that, unlike Lennie, he doesn't have any learning difficulties or disabilities. One could argue, then, that George's power derives from privilege. That doesn't mean, however, that George lords it over Lennie or that he dominates or controls him in any way because for George, with power comes responsibility. George is determined to ensure that he uses his power responsibly to protect Lennie, in keeping with the promise he made to Lennie's Aunt Clara.

At the same time, Lennie uses his enormous physical power to protect George. In the tough world of itinerant farm-workers, this is an important power to have. However, it doesn't in any way alter the fundamental dynamic at the heart of George and Lennie's relationship, for unlike George, Lennie has little understanding of what it means to exercise power responsibly. The problem for Lennie is that he just doesn't know his own strength, and this keeps him in a position of subordination with regards to George.

It's notable that, even in the dream life they envisage together, it's George who gets to run the ranch while Lennie takes care of the rabbits. So even if their dreams came true, the fundamental power imbalance between the two men would remain.

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

The element of power of George and Lennie is one of reparation and genuine friendship. Reparation stems from George's side of the relationship because when they were younger he "beat the hell out of him" (Steinbeck 40). Lennie contributes genuine friendship. Upon hearing even the slightest rumor of George being in danger, Lennie demands that "nobody is going to suppose hurt to George" (Steinbeck 72). So in the power of George and Lennie, George clings to Lennie in a way to escape his past wrongdoings, and Lennie stands by George as a genuine friend whose loyalty will never falter.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team