How do the details in this passage from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck add to your understanding of George and his relationship with Lennie?
John Steinbeck created unique characters in his novella Of Mice and Men. Every man has to have hope that things will be better tomorrow or in the future. However, Robert Burns in his poem from which the title of the novella is taken states: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” This is true for Lennie and George.
Lennie’s character is dangerous. Whatever situation in which Lennie finds himself usually goes wrong. He is mentally challenged and extremely large and powerful. When he is cornered or does something wrong, Lennie looks to George to fix the situation. Even then, Lennie worries that George will take away his dream of living on a farm and raising rabbits. A more dangerous combination comes when Lennie loses his temper—then someone gets hurt.
George, who was given the responsibility of taking care of Lennie, spends much of his time trying to cover for or keep Lennie out of trouble. He has the same dream as Lennie—to own something that will guarantee him a place to call home. Despite Lennie’s limitations and his responsibility for him, George has a strong affection for his friend.
In one part of the story, George, Lennie, and Candy are in the bunk house. George is playing solitaire. Lennie never takes his eyes off George. Lennie asks questions that a child would ask and George patiently answers them. As George talks about the “whore house,” Lennie moves his lips trying to immolate George. From the conversation, the reader learns that George and Lennie were in school together.
Surprisingly, Lennie remembers a boy that was in school with them. George thinks it is because Lennie remembers the pancakes that the boy’s mother made. He recalled this boy because he went to jail because of a woman. This certainly foreshadows the end of the story.
While George continues to play cards, Lennie asks him to recall their mutual dream. Again, George patiently repeats the story of the farm with the animals.
“Well, it’s ten acres,” said George. “got a little win’mill. Got a little shack on it, an’a chicken run. Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries…They’s a place for alfalfa…they’s a pig pen…” “An’ rabbits, George…We could live offa the fatta the lan’.”
These are the hopes and dreams of two men who live on the fringes of society. This is the depression. There will never be a farm—but these men have to believe that there could be one.
In addition, the concept of Lennie staying away from women is reinforced. At the beginning of the story, the pair had to leave in the middle of the night because of Lennie touching a girl’s skirt and then grabbing on to it when she begins to yell.
Curley’s wife has come into the bunk house. To the men this is inappropriate behavior. George is determined to keep Lennie away from her for two reasons: Curley is not a good man, and Lennie does not know what the boundaries are when he is around women.