In John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice And Men, how are George and Lennie depicted as being different from the other migrant workers?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter one, at Lennie's excited insistence, we learn from George what makes them different from other ranch hands when he tells him:

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no fambly. They don't belong no place. They come to a ranch an' work up a stake and then they go into town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they're poundin' their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to."

George means that ranch hands like themselves are extremely lonely and are migratory. They do not have stability, nor an actual home or family to go to, they are without an anchor. They arrive at ranches and work to earn money and save, but then go to town and waste all their hard-earned cash and are soon  working their tails off on another ranch. They have nothing to look forward to and therefore live aimless lives.

He continues and states how he and Lennie are different:

"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."

The two of them share a companionship and care about each other, unlike the others. The have something to look forward to and do not have to sit in a saloon and waste all their money because they have nowhere else to go. If one of the other men should be arrested and spend time in prison, they might as well die there because there is no one to care about them. But with the two of them it is different, since they have each other.

It is clear from their conversation that George and Lennie have a definite plan. They are going to buy a little house and farm with a few animals and till the land they have obtained. As Lennie puts it, they are going to, 'live off the fatta the lan' .' It is this which anchors the two men and give them hope for the future, unlike all the other ranch hands, who live disparaging, frustrated and depressing lives - a continuous and mundane, almost purposeless, existence.