Analyze the following: "Good boy. That's swell. You say that over two, three times so you won't forget it." (Of Mice and Men)

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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George and Lennie talk in the opening chapter of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men about the world of potential and opportunity that stands in front of them.  Their working on a ranch is the key to their dreams.  For George, that dream is financial independence and ownership.  For Lennie, that dream is the ability to tend to rabbits on his own.  George takes care of Lennie.  He is responsible for Lennie and must ensure that his needs are met as well as his own.  On the count of Lennie's own mental challenges as well as his propensity for involving himself in situations that are beyond his control, George wants to ensure that Lennie does not speak aloud when they go to the ranch the next day for their jobs.  George directs Lennie to be silent:

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 nothin'. If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are, we won't get no job, but if he sees you work before he hears ya talk, we're set. Ya got that?

When Lennie gathers that he "ain't gonna say a word," George instructs him to repeat it to himself so that he is not going to get into any trouble.  When George compliments him on repeating it over and over, and hopefully ingraining itself in Lennie's small memory bank, George is seeking to find a way to make the impossible possible.  He strives to go against the current.  George wishes to make something happen that is most likely not going to happen.  In telling Lennie to say it "over two, three times so you won't forget it," he wishes to do what has not been done and what he knows in his own heart has a long shot of being accomplished.

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