What does this passage show about George, Lennie and their relationship?  George's hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to its master,...

What does this passage show about George, Lennie and their relationship?

 

George's hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again. George snapped his fingers sharply and Lennie laid the mouse in his hand. 'I wasn't doin' nothing bad with it, George. Jus' strokin' it.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This passage from Chapter 1 of Of Mice and Men depicts the dynamics between the small, quick George Milton and the sloping shouldered, huge Lennie Small, whose arms hang loosely and whose feet drag as he walks. Clearly, George has assumed the role of father to the simple, childlike Lennie who enjoys catching mice and petting them.  But, because he cannot control his Herculean strength, Lennie inadvertently kills his little pets that he hides from George in his pockets.

George walks before Lennie, the superior, and he scolds Lennie about not to drink unreservedly from an unfamiliar pool of water.  As they speak of their new job that they will begin the next day, Lennie asks George about his work card and slips his hand into his pocket.  Like a parent, George notices this movement and asks Lennie what he has in his pocket.  Lennie slowly produces a dead mouse; George takes it and throws the mouse into the brush on the other side of the pool.  However, when George tells Lennie to gather dead willow sticks for starting a fire, George detects sounds of splashing in the direction Lennie has gone.  As Lennie returns with a single willow stick, George demands, "Gi'me that mouse!" Lennie lies that he has no mouse, but George insists, "You ain't puttin' nothing over." 

Despite Lennie's childish protestations, George holds his hand out "imperiously," clearly in control.  Again compared to an animal, Lennie hesitates like a reluctant terrier, but he finally obeys his superior.  The passage cited above to which these actions relate also indicate the inability of Lennie to exert self-control and good judgment.  Here, then, in this passage is a foreshadowing of the events in the final chapter in which Lennie again can control neither his strength nor his animal urges.

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