In the novel, Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, explain how George is a mentor to Lennie in the manner that he teaches him to think and act independently. Mention specific instances in the...

In the novel, Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, explain how George is a mentor to Lennie in the manner that he teaches him to think and act independently. Mention specific instances in the book where this occurs.

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The general definition of mentor is that it is a person who is wise and trusted who acts as a counsellor or that such is a person is a senior or influential individual who sponsors and supports one.

In the novel, George fulfills both roles in Lennie's regard. Lennie clearly has some form of mental disability and is quite incapable of realizing the consequences of his actions. Also, Lennie is a big and powerful man, but lacks the ability to understand the full extent of his strength. In his mind, a soft touch is just that, when he has, in actual fact, exerted tremendous force. Since he does not really understand how much power he actually has, he does not know how to control it. 

It is for these reasons that George steps in to provide Lennie with guidance. He consistently speaks to him about this, but Lennie, however, due to his incapacity, fails to learn. George has taken it upon himself to be Lennie's guide and the two have developed a very close bond. Lennie trusts George and attempts to follow his advice.

The following incidents are examples where George tries to educate Lennie and persuade him to think for himself:

In chapter one, George tries to teach Lennie about not drinking stagnant water, after Lennie had just dunked his face into a river and greedily slurped up the liquid.

You never oughta drink water when it ain't running, Lennie," he said hopelessly. "You'd drink out of a gutter if you was thirsty."

The word, 'hopelessly' suggests that George feels that it won't make any difference trying to educate Lennie. He will probably forget what he has just been told.

On another occasion, George tells Lennie the following:

"That ranch we're goin' to is right down there about a quarter mile. We're gonna go in an' see the boss. Now, look- I'll give him the work tickets, but you ain't gonna say a word. You jus' stand there and don't say nothing. If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are, we won't get no job, but if he sees ya work before he hears ya talk,we're set. Ya got that?"

"Sure, George. Sure I got it."

George is trying to teach Lennie to know when to keep his mouth shut, lest he say something that could prevent them from obtaining work, since they had gotten into trouble at a different ranch where Lennie had caused some trouble and they had to flee.

Out of concern for Lennie, George later gives him the following advice, hoping that he will remember:

Well, look. Lennie- if you jus' happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an' hide in the brush."

"Hide in the brush," said Lennie slowly.

"Hide in the brush till I come for you. Can you remember that?"

"Sure I can, George. Hide in the brush till you come."

This advice proves invaluable in the end, for Lennie does exactly what George tells him in this instance after he later accidentally commits another, as George calls it, 'bad thing'. As a result, Lennie is forced to run away at the risk of being caged, brutally tortured and killed.

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