Throughout the novel, both George and Lennie are propelled by their desire to own their own ranch one day. They dream of a day when they can be their own bosses and leave their itinerant ranch hand life behind. They claim they are different from other workers because they have each other and something to look forward to. George says,
"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no fambly. They don't belong no place. …With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.” Lennie broke 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."
Yet George is conflicted by his desire to live a life independent from Lennie, and he threatens Lennie with leaving over and over. George also feels obligated to help Lennie because of promises he made to his family. George genuinely cares for Lennie, but when Lennie becomes a liability, he must make a difficult choice.
Lennie does not have much choice in the novel but he knows that he is dependent on George for survival, so he tries to please George and keep their dream alive. His dream of taking care of the rabbits shows that Lennie just wants to be loved and accepted. Ultimately, he seeks this same love and acceptance from Curly’s wife, but it leads to a series of tragic events.