In Of Mice and Men, would George really be better off without Lennie? Explain what evidence there is that George would or would not be different if he were on his own.

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Although George says he would be better off without Lennie , that is simply his way of coping with the frustration of dealing with his friend's limitations and also a way of controlling him for his own good. In fact, as George knows, he would not be better off without...

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Although George says he would be better off without Lennie, that is simply his way of coping with the frustration of dealing with his friend's limitations and also a way of controlling him for his own good. In fact, as George knows, he would not be better off without him. Early in the book, he says to Lennie, "repeating the words rhythmically as though he had said them many times before:"

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world....

'With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn."

"But not us." Lennie broke in. "But not us! An' why? Because...because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why."

At the end of the book, when Lennie says he thought George was mad at him for killing Curley's wife, George says,

No, Lennie. I ain't mad. I never been mad, an' I ain't now. That's a thing I want ya to know.

Evidence that life would be different for George with Lennie can be seen in the lives of the other men on the ranch. They are lonely. They perk up and long eagerly to be part of the plan when they hear George and Lennie talk about their dream of buying their own farm.

The rare good fortune of having a companion to care about and make plans with means that George has a degree of security, a person he trusts he can talk to, and hopes for a better future. These are all simple things, but they are elusive to the men who must wander from place to place seeking work. George might talk about wanting to blow his money at a cathouse or on drinking at a bar, but, in reality, that is the behavior of men who have no hope that tomorrow will be any better than today—nothing to plan for or dream of.

At the end of the novel, we feel for George's loss as realizes he must kill Lennie. It's hard for him (and horribly ironic) that he has to tell him about the dream of the farm just as he is doing the thing that he knows ensures the dream will never come true.

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Lennie makes life difficult for George in Of Mice and Men. Lennie makes life so difficult that several characters remark about the peculiarity of their bond and friendship. Many of the men see Lennie as a burden to George because he is unable to care for himself. For many of the men in the solitary rancher’s life, their relationship is strange and confusing—but it is the difference for George and Lennie that provides them hope in the face of their circumstances.

George relies on Lennie because Lennie gives him purpose. Unlike many of the other farmhands, caring for Lennie gives him something to look after and someone to make plans with. George and Lennie have many stories and sayings that they repeat, mostly because Lennie likes to repeat the stories that George tells him. One of the things they often repeat is about being family and how it makes them stronger than others around them,

“An’ I got you. We got each other, that’s what, that gives a hoot in hell about us,” Lennie cried in triumph.

If George didn’t believe that his bond with Lennie makes him stronger, then he wouldn’t keep him around. Their bond—the fact that they are family, like brothers—is what keeps them both going during hard times. It is the rudder that guides George away from the wasteful life of a lonely farmhand and the bond that guides Lennie when he is unable to guide himself.

In the story, we get a glimpse of what George would be like on his own. Despite the desire to own his own farm with Lennie, when George goes off with the other farmhands, he spends his money on women and alcohol at a brothel in town. It is unlikely that George would live a prosperous life without Lennie—though he might not have to move around as often as he does when he is with Lennie.

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It is a paradox that George is not better off without Lennie, a mentally disabled man who constantly gets them into trouble. Before shooting Lennie, George tells his friend,

Guys like us got no fambly. They make a little stake and then they blow it. They ain't got nobody in the worl' that gives a hoot in hell about em---

Yet, earlier in anger George declares,

 ...if I was alone I could live so easy.  I could get a job an'work, an'no trouble..and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty buck and go into town and get whatever I want 

While George realizes the problems attached to Lennie, he also knows that meaning in life depends upon sharing with others. 

"George said softly,"He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would."  Lennie is the keeper of the dream of owning land and have a place together, their own American Dream.  Without the innocence of Lennie who does not doubt the reality of the dream, George is adrift, isolated amidst the misfits of society. 

The title is pivotal in responding to the question. "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," for as Burns continues,"...Man's dominion/has broken Nature's social union." The relationship of George and Lennie goes awry when Nature's social union is broken and George, sadly, is alone.

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