How does Steinbeck present the character of George in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men?
One of the central characters in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is George Milton. The author presents him as a street-wise man, who possesses a good deal of common sense, although he himself admits that "I ain’t so bright neither." One example of George's common sense appears in the opening chapter as Lennie drinks eagerly from the pond and does not think twice about it. George, in contrast, is cautious and advises Lenny not to drink from water that is not running.
In some ways, George is rather manipulative because he creates a dream that he does not really believe that he can ever achieve, namely the goal of having a "little place" of his own. George uses this dream to help control Lennie and keep Lennie focused. Still, once Lennie kills Curley's wife, George admits that he never really believed they would be able to have their own place:
I think I knowed from the very first. I think I know’d we’d never do her.
Although George does manipulate Lennie to some extent, he is a loyal friend to Lennie and Lennie is convinced that George would never leave him, even though George himself sometimes expresses this desire and other characters in the story tell Lennie that George may leave him.
In the end, even George's killing of Lennie seems to be right thing to do. He knew that Curley and the other men would kill Lennie once they found him. In contrast to Candy, who allows Carlson to kill his old dog, George will not leave to someone else the responsibility of putting Lennie out of his misery. Thus, at the close of the novel, Slim says to George, "“You hadda, George. I swear you hadda."