What does the opening dialogue between Lennie and George tell us about the nature of their relationship?

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The use of dialogue in Of Mice and Men establishes the power relationships of the characters in Steinbeck's narrative.  Suggested by his walking ahead of the lumbering Lennie who shuffles like a bear and paws the pool of water, George plays a more dominant role in the pair's dynamics.  Much like...

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The use of dialogue in Of Mice and Men establishes the power relationships of the characters in Steinbeck's narrative.  Suggested by his walking ahead of the lumbering Lennie who shuffles like a bear and paws the pool of water, George plays a more dominant role in the pair's dynamics.  Much like a parent, he scolds Lennie about not drinking so much so quickly; later he chides Lennie about wanting ketchup, about his behavior in Weeds that brought them to the Salinas Valley to work on the ranch, about how much easier his life would be without Lennie, and about how Lennie is to follow his lead and not say anything when they arrive at the ranch the next day.

Despite these scoldings, there is apparent in their converstations that there is love and concern for Lennie on George's part, for he feels guilty after Lennie's feelings are hurt.  In order to console him and to reassure Lennie of his love, George reaffirms their bond,

Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. . . . With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.

Idealizing the fraternity of men, Steinbeck suggests that they are the most satisfying way for the disenfranchised men to overcome the loneliness that pervades their world.  For, in the end, the differences of George and Lennie are superceded by their friendship.

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