what are the reasons which could explain George cynicism ? what are the reasons which could explain George's cynicism ?  

6 Answers | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

I think that George is not cynical as much as resigned about "getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop," to quote Marilyn Monroe.  I think that George's dreams and hopes for being able to see things work out for him do animate him and with this in his heart and mind, we do see him believe in hope.  I think that his taking Lennie's life indicates that he is not cynical.  I agree with the previous post that the cynic has abandoned hope.  To help Lennie pass with dignity is replete with hope.  I think where his perception might come across as cynical is that he is resigned about how social fraternity is not present to the level that it should be and his ability to enjoy the sweet end of the lollipop is either denied or deferred.

surfpoetess's profile pic

surfpoetess | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Looking at what we know about George's life at the beginning of the novel, I can certainly see where the cynicism (or realism in his case) comes from.  He has had to care for Lennie, whose disability makes it very difficult for George to remain patient and optimistic.  Taking care of Lennie leaves George no chance of being in a serious relationship with a woman and the number of times Lennie has gotten in trouble in the past keeps George from staying in a job and pulling up "a stake" somewhere.  I do like what Post #2 said.  George wants to be optimistic, but being a guy who has had to be as tough as he has had to be, he certainly does not like showing this side often. 

I do not really agree that cynicism and realism are the same thing.

From the dictionary:

Realism - the tendency to view or represent things as they really are

Cynicism - a belief that only selfishness motivates human actions and a disbelief in or the minimalization of selfless acts or disinterested points of view

If George were a cynic, he wouldn't even bother talking about their dream of having a home and being independent. He wouldn't bother to bring Candy in on it, or write the letter to the property owners to put the payment down on the land. These are actions of hope and belief; they are not the actions of distrust and disbelief (hallmarks of a cynic). He is a realist in that he knows the world is hard to maneuver, especially when you are on the bottom trying to work your way up - with an old man who is handicapped and a friend who is mentally-disabled. I don't think that George's protectiveness should be inaccurately read as cynicism. He's like the mom who tells her son "all women are bad," because she knows her son will enjoy himself too much and get a girl pregnant. Is the mom really cynical or just over-protective? Lennie has a history of misbehavior - such as holding onto the girl's dress which caused them to have to run away in the first place. George is realistic about Lennie's problems and the things in the world that will tempt and hurt Lennie (and George by association). That's not really cynicism. There is no hope in cynicism, and I see a lot of hope in George's behavior throughout the book. That is why the end is so sad. By killing Lennie, George kills his hope. He loses his dream.

litchick2011's profile pic

litchick2011 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Looking at what we know about George's life at the beginning of the novel, I can certainly see where the cynicism (or realism in his case) comes from.  He has had to care for Lennie, whose disability makes it very difficult for George to remain patient and optimistic.  Taking care of Lennie leaves George no chance of being in a serious relationship with a woman and the number of times Lennie has gotten in trouble in the past keeps George from staying in a job and pulling up "a stake" somewhere.  I do like what Post #2 said.  George wants to be optimistic, but being a guy who has had to be as tough as he has had to be, he certainly does not like showing this side often. 

surfpoetess's profile pic

surfpoetess | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

About women George is cynical, distrusting of their motives.  Their enticing sexual behavior is what George sees as the cause of the unthinking actions of men. "There's plenty done that [been a "tart"]," Curley tells the swamper.  Afterall, his and Lennie's troubles have come from Lennie's having been tempted by women; they had to move on when a woman let Lennie touch her dress, then claimed rape.  Later, despite George's warnings to Lennie to never

take a look at that b---.  I don't care what she says and what she does. I seen 'em poison before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be.

This cynicism about women is what tightens the brotherly bonds  George forms with Lennie.  He looks out for Lennie, he gives Lennie the love and compassion that he needs, not some temptress. Because Steinbeck's parable has parallels with the story of the Garden of Eden and the sin of Eve's temptation, George perceives the only way to protect the dream of a ranch and the security it will bring is to disallow any women to break the bonds of brotherly love and devotion.   When Lennie succumbs to the temptation of touching Curley's life, their dream is destroyed.  So, it would seem that George's cynicism is justified.

Interesting!

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

About women George is cynical, distrusting of their motives.  Their enticing sexual behavior is what George sees as the cause of the unthinking actions of men. "There's plenty done that [been a "tart"]," Curley tells the swamper.  Afterall, his and Lennie's troubles have come from Lennie's having been tempted by women; they had to move on when a woman let Lennie touch her dress, then claimed rape.  Later, despite George's warnings to Lennie to never

take a look at that b---.  I don't care what she says and what she does. I seen 'em poison before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be.

This cynicism about women is what tightens the brotherly bonds  George forms with Lennie.  He looks out for Lennie, he gives Lennie the love and compassion that he needs, not some temptress. Because Steinbeck's parable has parallels with the story of the Garden of Eden and the sin of Eve's temptation, George perceives the only way to protect the dream of a ranch and the security it will bring is to disallow any women to break the bonds of brotherly love and devotion.   When Lennie succumbs to the temptation of touching Curley's life, their dream is destroyed.  So, it would seem that George's cynicism is justified.

surfpoetess's profile pic

surfpoetess | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I have never read George as being cynical. He is actually what I would call "cautiously hopeful." A cynic thinks the world is a corrupt place without hope or truth. George isn't really like that. If he were a cynic, then he wouldn't take care of Lennie the way he does, or repeat their dream over and over, or write the letter to get the farm. George is hopeful, but he holds onto that hope precariously, like a balloon in a wind storm. He's just waiting for it to get ripped out of his hands. He's been through enough to know that he and Lennie are in a battle of wills with the world. Steinbeck wrote in the Modern Period of American literature; it is a literary time period marked by the quest for the American Dream and the disillusionment that comes when the dream is not realized. This is the story of George; he represents this time period completely. By the end, he realizes that his dream (and in a symbolic way the American Dream) has been destroyed. He is depressed and disillusioned by the end, but not cynical.

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question