In Of Mice and Men, what does the language George and Lennie use reflect about them?

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mizzwillie's profile pic

mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the two characters George and Lennie are both men who work on the ranches, traveling together from place to place whenever they need to move because of trouble.  The language they use reflects their roles with each other,George the leader and Lennie following.  

  • "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. 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. 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
  • "Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. 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.
  • These two quotes reveal a great deal about the two men.  Both are spoken by George the leader while Lennie listens.  The first quote reveals the hope they both have of having a little place for themselves if they stick together.  They believe they have a future unlike the rest of the men with whom they work.  The simple words and grammar errors reveal their lack of education and how lonely both would be without the other.  The second quote reveals George's frustration with Lennie who gets into trouble because of his lack of understanding of the world and his own brute strength.  Lennie gets them both in trouble, because despite George's words, he won't leave Lennie even though his life would be easier.  The words reveal two lonely men who have remained together despite the difficulties of their lives, showing that hope, loyalty, sympathy and even love have a place within their hearts.
rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

George and Lennie are country men: they work on a farm, travel around to find work, and (considering the time period and their situation) they may not be properly educated. So when Lennie says "This ain’t no good place." you can understand that he speaks this way because of the area he lived and the language that he heard around him. 

If you want to go more in depth about each of them as individuals, Lennie speaks more "child-like" while George is more adult-like and controlling. George is a leader towards Lennie and takes care of him, so he speaks with a stronger, controlling tone.  

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