Explore the relationship between George and Lennie. Analyze and use quotes.

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It can seem that George and Lennie have a tense relationship. They quarrel a lot. George gets angry and impatient with Lennie and even says he sorry he has to take care of him. Lennie spends time worrying about upsetting George and is also crafty about manipulating him.

But beneath...

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It can seem that George and Lennie have a tense relationship. They quarrel a lot. George gets angry and impatient with Lennie and even says he sorry he has to take care of him. Lennie spends time worrying about upsetting George and is also crafty about manipulating him.

But beneath all that, these two are very close friends who care deeply about each other and value the relationship they have. They are dependent on each other and share the common dream of owning a farm.

Further, Lennie, being mentally handicapped, can't make it without George's guidance. And for all his complaints, George has a deep need to be needed. He wants to care for Lennie, even if it sometimes makes him crazy, and he likes to be the top dog. Also, he knows how lonely he would be without Lennie. As George says, he and Lennie aren't like the other migrant workers, tramping by themselves from place to place:

With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.

We also learn that the relationship goes way back. The two were born in the same town, and George knew Lennie's aunt. They may be wandering rootless, but they come from the background and this helps bond them together:

"It ain't so funny, him an' me goin' aroun' together," George said at last. "Him and me was both born in Auburn. I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while."

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The relationship between Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men is one of friendship and stewardship. These two men travel together and share a dream. However, the two are not equals.

George takes care of Lennie and if we slightly tweak his description of Lennie – “He ain’t bright, but he’s a good worker” – we get a good picture of George’s view of Lennie. He is not smart, but Lennie is a good friend.

Within the friendship, George has the role of caretaker almost, as a father would take care of a son. Lenny serves as a companion and potential protection for George (He says at one point, “Ain’t nobody goin’ to talk no hurt to George,” suggesting that his response to any threat against his friend.)

The most telling statement from both men about their friendship is the one they repeat as part of their ritual. As Lenny and George go over the shape of their dream and plan for the future, they repeatedly define their friendship by saying that they are not like the other travelling workers:

George: “We ain’t like that...”

Lennie: “Not us! An’ why? Because…because I got you to look after me, and you’ve got me to look after you, and that’s why.”

 

A complicating factor of this relationship comes with the fact that Lennie is not a child and is responsible for his own actions. Though George is Lenny’s caretaker, he can only take a moral responsibility for Lennie’s misdeeds, not a legal one. This fact leads to the book’s climax where both modes of responsibility meet in a dramatic resolution.

 

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