In the first chapter of Of Mice and Men, what does George say to Lennie about how his life could be better without him?

In the first chapter of Of Mice and Men, George tells Lennie that his life could be better without him, saying, "God, you're a lot of trouble... I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn't have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl." Lennie depends on George's assistance, but George is often rather begrudging of their situation.

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In the opening chapter of the novella, George and Lennie camp by the Salinas River and it becomes apparent that Lennie looks to George for guidance, protection, and advice. As a mentally handicapped individual, Lennie would struggle to navigate life without George and relies heavily on him for assistance and direction. After narrowly escaping a dangerous situation in Weed, George is still upset with Lennie for putting their lives in serious jeopardy. When Lennie struggles to recall the recent events in Weed, George loses his temper and says,

God, you're a lot of trouble... I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn't have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl.

Although George understands the importance of Lennie's friendship and company, he resents having to care for him as they traverse the country looking for work. Even though George would be extremely lonely without Lennie, he would have the freedom to gallivant with women and never worry about getting into serious trouble.

Shortly after George makes the disparaging remarks about living peacefully without Lennie, he prepares baked beans for dinner and Lennie complains about not having ketchup. Lennie's comment makes George lose his composure, and he once again comments on how his life would be better without Lennie by saying,

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 ' all, and when the end of the month come I coul' take my fifty bucks and go into town and get what' ever I want. Why, I could stay in a cat house night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or an place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool.

George's dream of living without Lennie is similar to his dream of owning his own estate. In George's mind, a life without Lennie would be carefree and fun. However, the reality of the situation would be depressing, lonely, and difficult. Both dreams are illusory, and it is unlikely that George will ever attain happiness with or without Lennie.

George goes on to complain about Lennie constantly keeping him in "hot water" and causing trouble everywhere they travel. His comments upset Lennie, who offers to go live in a cave by himself. George feels bad after expressing his frustration towards Lennie and makes amends by reflecting on their dream of purchasing an estate and living off the "fatta the lan'."

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George and Lennie travel together, looking for work and keeping each other company. George has appointed himself a guardian of sorts, watching out for Lennie because of his mental challenges. It is clear from the start that not only does Lennie need some assistance in navigating the complexities of life, but he really trusts George to steer him in the right direction.

Meanwhile, George isn't exactly a nurturing caretaker, and he is often curt with Lennie. As Lennie struggles to recall what happened in Weed, George tells him that he isn't going to talk about it out of fear that Lennie will do the same thing again. Finally "a light of understanding" crosses Lennie's face as he remembers that the two friends were "run... outa Weed."

George is disgusted, telling Lennie that the two of them ran on their own, proud that they didn't get caught. He then lays back in the sand and reflects.

"God, you're a lot of trouble," said George. "I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn't have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl."

George will echo similar sentiments several times throughout the story, reminding Lennie that life would be better without him. Because of Lennie's challenges, George's sentiments are particularly poignant; Lennie has no one else to trust or turn to. Occasionally, he feels that he is a burden to George and threatens to run off in the woods and live alone, which is his only other option.

Though George doesn't seem to appreciate it, Lennie is a loyal companion. George watches out for Lennie, though he does so begrudgingly.

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As the story opens, we are introduced to the curious relationship between George and Lennie and we see how dependent Lennie is upon George through his inability to look after himself and his child-like nature. As George continues to berate Lennie for his stupidity and the difficulty he has in remembering things, George begins to dream of the kind of life that he could have if he didn't have to look after Lennie. Note what he says:

"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. Why, I could stay in a cat house all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool."

The important thing to note in this novel, however, is that in spite of how George dreams of what life would be like if he didn't have to look after Lennie, the friendship that they have sustains them both. When they get to the farm and meet the isolated and lonely characters that they live alongside for a while, it is clear that friendship is a blessing in the bleak world that Steinbeck creates for us, even when that friendship involves so much trouble for George.

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