Explain the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The relationship between George and Lennie is a complex one. 

First, George is like a father to Lennie.  George takes care of Lennie in various ways.  For instance, George makes Lennie throw away dead mice that might make him sick.  He also reprimands him when he drinks too much stagnant water, which might make him sick.  Also like a father, George takes pride in Lennie when Slim says that Lennie is a great worker. 

Second, Lennie looks up to George and trusts him.  He probably does not see him as a father figure, but certainly as an older brother.  He knows that George will take care of him. 

Third, George and Lennie are friends.  This is the most profound point in the story.  One of the main points of the story is that loneliness reign over and pervades the lives of everyone.  Right from the beginning this note is struck. George says:

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no fambly.

George continues:

“With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.

Even Lennie chimes in:

“But not us! An’ why? Because . . . . because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.” He laughed delightedly. “Go on now, George!”

In conclusion, George and Lennie care for each other.  This is the only bright spot in the whole story.  They are friends, true friends.  




user2129651 | Student

John Steinbeck significantly developed the relationship between George and Lennie by making George the intelligent and lonely but weak character and making Lennie the mentally disabled and lonely but strong. “The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, with large, pale eyes, and wide sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.” This proves Lennie strength but, also lets you know he is like an animal strong but, not very intelligent and acts on instinct not thought, which means he doesn’t think before he does something which is why George is there to guide him with his wits.“With us it ain't like that.  We got a future.  We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us…” this shows George has the ability to think ahead and plan for the future. Therefore making George need Lennie for his strength and Lennie need George for his wit’s and self-control.

John Steinbeck also makes Lennie portray a child like figure and makes him unable to control himself making George have to be the parent figure. Like when Lennie pets the mice to hard and kills it George gets mad and throws the dead mouse across the river. "The hell with the rabbits. An' you ain't to be trusted with no live mice.”  In the book you will notice how George tells Lennie what to do and how to do it. For instance in Weed when Lennie wants to touch the little girl’s red dress so, he holds on “'cause that's the only thing he can think to do.” The girl starts yelling and George  was just' a little distance away, and he heard all the yelling', so he came running, and by that time Lennie's so scared all he can think to do is jus' hold on. In the book George socked him over the head with a fence picket to make him let go. He was so scared he couldn't let go of that dress. George’s exclaimed “And he's so God damn strong, you know." Not only do these quotes show that Lennie is strong it also shows he doesn’t have the mentality to know what he was doing and to stop. George then tells him to run and they run off to the new ranch where they meet Curley and them. Lennie often tests George the way a child tests a parent. When George yells at Lennie, Lennie threatens to run away. He is not capable of caring for himself, yet he imagines living in a cave. These are the escape fantasies of a child. As the child, he has little to offer his father figure other than his devotion. Knowing that George loves him and would miss him, Lennie threatens to leave when they argue. This is Lennie's only way of asserting any type power in the relationship.

Steinbeck also made the dream farm to make them have a common goal and have them try to reach it together and to have what childish animals on the farm for Lennie and have home and place for them to do whatever pleased them. He also made George have a strong emotional connection with Lennie making Lennie show the nice,caring, etc.. side of George. John Steinbeck  made their relationship this way because it gave the readers an emotional appeal to the book.