What is the nature of the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men? John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men    

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the major motifs of John Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Men is the Fraternity of Men. Writing his work during the Great Depression, Steinbeck the Socialist perceived the terrible alienation of the migrant worker and felt that the communion of these men working together was the solution to their terrible alienation.

Thus, the relationship of George and Lennie is that of brotherhood.  While George essays to protect Lennie as an older brother would, he does, in fact, fail at times as would a sibling who assumes such a role.  While Lennie does fear George somewhat, his fear resembles that of a younger sibling for an older one, rather than a parent.  For,his perception is clearly that they are friends, and, thus, equals.  When he asks George to tell him "how it is with us," and George describes how they have "somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us," Lennie breaks in describing their reciprocal relationship,

"But not us!  An' why?  Because...because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why."

Each man provides something for the other that he lacks.  With George, Lennie provides love and trust and, above all, the sustaining of the dream.  For, once Lennie who truly believes in the dream is gone, so, too, does the dream die, since Lennie is the keeper of ithe dream.  For Lennie, George is the thinker and the planner.  In their fraternity, there is strength and happiness, Steinbeck seems to say to his readers. Alone, apart, both Lennie's and George's ends are tragic.

 

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