George and Lennie have known one another since boyhood. George tells people that they are cousins, but it is not true—it is just a simpler explanation than the real story. In reality, they grew up together in Auburn. Lennie’s Aunt Clara took Lennie in when he was a baby and...
George and Lennie have known one another since boyhood. George tells people that they are cousins, but it is not true—it is just a simpler explanation than the real story. In reality, they grew up together in Auburn. Lennie’s Aunt Clara took Lennie in when he was a baby and raised him. George knew Aunt Clara and therefore has known Lennie since he was young.
After Aunt Clara died, George became a guardian of sorts to Lennie, and Lennie just began to accompany George wherever he went. As George says to Slim,
When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while.
George feels a sense of responsibility for his friend because he is the nearest thing to family that Lennie has after Aunt Clara's death. Moreover, George also deeply regrets that when they were younger, he used to taunt Lennie the way other people did. Now, he understands that it was wrong to treat him that way, as Lennie is innocent and well-meaning. George now genuinely cares for Lennie, and the two have become inseparable.
After the incident in Weed that forces both men to flee town, George takes precautions and comes up with a plan in the event things go similarly awry at their new job. George and Lennie make a pact that if anything happens, Lennie is to go hide in the brush and wait for George. George makes Lennie repeat the instructions so that he is sure that Lennie will follow them:
"Well, look Lennie—if you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done be fore, I want you to come right here an’ hide in the brush."
"Hide in the brush," said Lennie slowly.
"Hide in the brush till I come for you. Can you remember that?"
"Sure I can, George. Hide in the brush till you come."
After Lennie kills Curley’s wife and runs away, he does exactly what George told him to do. This is how George knows where Lennie will be hiding and is able to find him before the other men do.