In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, how is George a dynamic character?  

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To suggest that the character of George Milton in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is "dynamic" is to ascribe to him a trait that is only warranted by virtue of his commitment to look after Lennie, the simple-minded giant of a man who accompanies him on his treks to new ranches at which they find temporary work. Certainly, Steinbeck's physical description of George suggests a dynamic character, one constantly prepared for action and expectant of change, for better or, more commonly, for worse:

"The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose."

This description of George does provide the basis for a conclusion that he is "dynamic." The reason for some measure of reticence, however, is his frequent protestations that, absent his mentally-deficient giant of a friend, he would settle down somewhere and live what passed for 'the good life' in Depression-era rural America. In the following passage, also from the opening chapter of Of Mice and Men, George expresses his frustration with having to take care of Lennie rather than live a more solitary life with out the burden:

"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." 

George knows that, because of his sense of responsibility for his only friend, this scenario is unlikely to ever come to fruition. He is dynamic, however, precisely because he knows that he has to be constantly on-guard for Lennie's next potentially-fatal accident involving some strange woman, as had occurred in the town of Weed. While Lennie has the innocent, seemingly-benevolent mind of a young child, George is a hardened, cynical ranch hand who has seen much and knows he must remain vigilant. 

Whether George could be considered "dynamic" in any other context is questionable. As Steinbeck's story progresses, there is a sense of danger involving Curly and his beautiful, flirtatious wife, and the reader is reminded of Lennie's mishap back in Weed. As a character, however, George is almost a model of stability, preferring to do his job, get paid, play cards, and maybe go into town on the weekends for a little fun. This hardly constitutes a model of dynamism. Furthermore, his final act of killing his friend in an act of mercy follows the natural evolution of the character with respect to his understanding of the world (as defined by the very limited parameters of the rural ranches where he finds employment). His decision to shoot Lennie rather than allow his friend to be subjected to a veritable lynch mob is consistent with his approach to life in general: He does what has to be done.

George is dynamic in the sense that he is always on the move, but that movement is solely a product of the temporary nature of his work and the inevitable problems that occur courtesy of Lennie's inability to exercise restraint. His physical description, as noted, suggests that he is a dynamic character, but he is really more of an emotionally-hardened realist.

dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A dynamic character is defined as one who makes a change in his character from the beginning of the story to the end.  In "Of Mice and Men" George seems to make this type of change if we compare the way that he acts in Chapter 1 to what he becomes by Chapter 6.  In the very beginning of the novel, George seems to be bothered by the fact that he has to take care of Lennie.  He feels obligated because of the things that he witnessed during their childhood.  Despite the fact that he feels obligated, he does not treat Lennie as well as he should, always acting and treating Lennie as if he is a nuisance and is in the way of George achieving more than he has.  However, in Chapter 6 we can see that George feels a genuine love toward Lennie.  He does not want anyone to hurt him and feels that the only way that he will be able to protect him like a father or brother is to shoot him himself.  George goes from feeling that Lennie is a huge problem in his life to acting as a caring father or brother would -- this makes George a dynamic character.