In what ways is George a parental figure to Lennie in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men?
I have a general understanding, and quite a few examples but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything important. SPECIFIC EXAMPLES FROM THE STORY WOULD BE APPRECIATED. Thank you.
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Lennie is a large, gentle man who is very much like a child. George looks out for him much like a parent would because he tells him what to do and looks out for him.
Our first look at George and Lennie is carefully designed to demonstrate their relationship.
“Lennie!” he said sharply. “Lennie, for God’ sakes don’t drink so much.”
Lennie continued to snort into the pool. The small man leaned over and shook him by the shoulder. “Lennie. You gonna be sick like you was last night.” (chapter 1)
George is trying to protect Lennie from drinking water that will make him sick, because Lennie obviously doesn’t know any better. George tries to explain “helplessly” that Lennie shouldn’t drink water that isn’t moving.
George is the one that makes sure they have work, and tries to keep their jobs by reigning in Lennie. He is not always successful, such as when Lennie bothered the girl and they had to leave the job.
“Jus’ wanted to feel that girl’s dress—jus’ wanted to pet it like it was a mouse—Well, how the hell did she know you jus’ wanted to feel her dress? She jerks back and you hold on like it was a mouse. She yells and we got to hide in a irrigation ditch all day with guys lookin’ for us, and we got to sneak out in the dark and get outa the country. All the time somethin’ like that—all the time. I wisht I could put you in a cage with about a million mice an’ let you have fun.” (chapter 1)
Like a parent telling bedtime stories, George calms Lennie by telling him about the dream of having their own farm someday, where Lennie can tend the rabbits.
“O.K. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—”
“An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that, George.”
“Why’n’t you do it yourself? You know all of it.”
“No . . . . you tell it. It ain’t the same if I tell it. Go on . . . . George. How I get to tend the rabbits.” (chapter 1)
Like any parent, George makes quite a few sacrifices for Lennie. Even if he could get another job, he has to stay a migrant worker because it’s the only job Lennie can do. He seems to have no other steady relationships.
“God, you’re a lot of trouble,” said George. “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl.” (chapter 1)
Even though George suggests he would be better off without Lennie, we know that he protects Lennie to the bitter end. In the end, he has to shoot Lennie to protect him.
Those are some specific examples to get you started!
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