In the first chapter of Of Mice and Men, what does George say to Lennie about how his life could be better without him?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the story opens, we are introduced to the curious relationship between George and Lennie and we see how dependent Lennie is upon George through his inability to look after himself and his child-like nature. As George continues to berate Lennie for his stupidity and the difficulty he has in remembering things, George begins to dream of the kind of life that he could have if he didn't have to look after Lennie. Note what he says:

"God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cat house all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool."

The important thing to note in this novel, however, is that in spite of how George dreams of what life would be like if he didn't have to look after Lennie, the friendship that they have sustains them both. When they get to the farm and meet the isolated and lonely characters that they live alongside for a while, it is clear that friendship is a blessing in the bleak world that Steinbeck creates for us, even when that friendship involves so much trouble for George.

kdslewis | Student

George and Lennie are dynamic characters that grow emotionally as the novel progresses.  In the 1st chapter, Steinbeck fills in the reader through George's speech to Lennie.  The reader learns that George and Lennie have been together for many years, that George promised Lennie's Aunt Cora to take care him Lennie, and that Lennie and George were kicked out of "Weed" for Lennie's imperfections (petting a girl). George also explains that he would have been better off without Lennie; George says he could have worked, got paid, and had a place of his own.  When in fact, George truly cares for Lennie.  Both men find a friendship within each other that is more important than any amount of money or land.