How does the boss react to Lennie's silence in Of Mice and Men?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The boss is surprised and suspicious when George talks for Lennie.  He is worried that George is taking advantage of him.

George is Lennie’s protector.  Lennie has mental handicaps and needs someone to look out for him, so he and George go around together and Geroge looks out for Lennie. George is protective of Lennie and makes sure that they always stay together and find work together.

When George and Lennie arrive at their new job on the ranch and George does all the talking, the boss is suspicious.

The boss pointed a playful finger at Lennie. "He ain't much of a talker, is he?" (ch 2)

George responds that he isn’t, but he is “sure a hell of a good worker,” and strong.  The boss yells at Lennie, and Lennie looks at George in panic.  George steps in and tells the boss that Lennie can do anything he is asked to do.  George swears he does not take Lennie’s pay from him, and says Lennie is his cousin.

The boss finally decides that brains are not needed, and consents to give them the job.  His suspicions are founded on the fact that most migrant farm workers seem to travel alone.  He does not want George to take advantage of Lennie.

The bond between George and Lennie is an unusual one, but it is strong.  Lennie and George need each other.  As much as Lennie needs someone to look out for him, George needs the company—and someone to look out for.