How is George a true friend to Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George is true to Lennie, because he looks out for him and protects him.

George cares for Lennie.  It is unusual for two migrant workers to travel around together.  Yet George looks out for Lennie because Lennie cannot take care of himself.  Lennie is strong and loyal, but not intelligent.  He has the mind of a child, and George has to take care of him.  They have traveled around together for awhile.

George is true to Lennie because he protects him.

Since Lennie does not always make the best choices, George has to tell him what to do.

George unslung his bindle and dropped it gently on the bank. "I ain't sure it's good water," he said. "Looks kinda scummy." (ch 1)

George also protects Lennie from the problems he tends to run into when people don’t understand him.  For example, when he gets run out of town because he touched a girl’s dress, George gets him out safely and gets him a new job.

"…You keep me in hot water all the time."  ... "Jus' wanted to feel that girl's dress- jus' wanted to pet it like it was a mouse- Well, how the hell did she know you jus' wanted to feel her dress?...” (ch 1)

Despite his mimicry, George understands Lennie as no one else does.  He knows Lennie is not trying to hurt anyone, but he just can’t help himse.

George is true to Lennie because he keeps him out of trouble.

Since Lennie is not very smart, he cannot always defend himself.  Physically, he is great in a fight—but that’s part of the problem, because he can hurt people and get into trouble.

The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie's big hand. George ran down the room. "Leggo of him, Lennie. Let go." (ch 4)

When George kills Lennie, he is doing it to protect him.  He knows that Lennie cannot escape this trouble.  They can’t just run this time—he killed a girl!  If Lennie was arrested, or if Curley caught up with him, things would be bad.  As with the puppy, Lennie would not understand what was happening.

"No, Lennie. Look down there acrost the river, like you can almost see the place."

Lennie obeyed him. George looked down at the gun. (ch 6)

George is protecting Lennie by shooting him.  Lennie would probably get the death penalty or be killed by Curley.  It would be a long process, and he would suffer.  This way he doesn’t.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George is a true friend of Lennie in many ways throughout the novella Of Mice and Men. George takes care of Lennie and allows him to tag along as he travels the country looking for work. Lennie, who is mentally handicapped, relies on George to find them work, provide food, and protect him throughout the story. Despite the fact that Lennie continually gets into trouble and makes life significantly more difficult, George enjoys his company and companionship. Even though George gets upset with Lennie, he treats him with compassion and eases his mind by telling him stories about their future homestead. When the two men arrive at the ranch, George gives Lennie important advice and warns him to stay away from Curley and his wife. George understands that Curley will antagonize Lennie and goes out of his way to make sure Lennie avoids him. George's most selfless act takes place towards the end of the novella after Lennie accidentally breaks Curley's wife's neck. Knowing that a lynch mob will capture and torture Lennie before killing him, George takes matters into his own hands as he meets up with Lennie on the riverbank. While George tells Lennie a calming story about their future homestead, he shoots Lennie in the back of the head as a mercy killing. George makes sure that Lennie dies a peaceful, painless death at the end of the novella.