Who and what is a loyal friend in Of Mice and Men?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite his complaints about what a burden Lennie is to him, George Milton is a loyal friend to Lennie Small. For, in the end George cannot permit the other men to capture Lennie and he shoots Lennie so that he will not be put into an asylum. However, loyalty is exhibited more throughout the novel by Candy and his dog. That his dog has been a faithful companion to the old swamper is exemplified by how the dog follows him everywhere and lies beneath his bunk. When Carlson wishes to shoot the old dog, Candy becomes distraught and looks "for help from face to face." Then he looks to Slim "to try to find some reversal." Sadly, Candy must allow the dog to be put down; however, he can only stare at the ceiling, and then face the wall after he hears the shot.

Later in the narrative, Candy displays his loyalty to George and Lennie when he joins them in their plans to own a farm,

"I'd made a will an' leeave my share to you guys in case I kick off, 'cause I ain't got no relatives nor nothing...."

When Curley's wife comes into the barn where Lennie talks with Crooks, Candy defends George and Lennie when Crooks mocks their future plans,

...we're gonna do it. George says we are. We got the money right now....Me an' Lennie an' George. We gonna have a room to ourself."

When Curley's wife makes fun of Lennie, Candy protects him, "...you let this guy alone....I'm gonna tell George what you says.  George won't have you messin' with Lennie."  As the acrimony continues, Lennie worries, "I wisht George was here."  But, Candy consoles him, "George'll be in the bunkhouse right now, I bet." Then, he tells Curley's wife that she should leave. Later, when she is dead, the loyal Candy is upset that she has caused Lennie to be in trouble. Truly, Candy is a loyal friend.

alejandrogalarce | Student

How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph) Though Steinbeck did not originally include chapter numbers with the text, most editions are broken into six sections, based on day and time of day: Thursday evening = Chapter 1; Friday day = Chapter 2; Friday evening = Chapter 3; Saturday night = Chapter 4; Sunday afternoon = Chapter 5; Sunday evening = Chapter 6.

They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders. (1.4)

This is our first introduction to Lennie and George. On the one hand, we know right away that they're not equals: one man is walking behind another. On the other hand, they're dressed identically. Is this a relationship of equals? Or is inequality always a part of friendships?

Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly. He pushed himself back, drew up his knees, embraced them, looked over to George to see whether he had it just right. He pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes, the way George's hat was. (1.10)

Sure, it seems like Lennie is about to go Single White Femaleon George. Instead, this is just part of his metal handicap: George is less of a friend than parent, role model, and idol all wrapped up into one.

"I was only foolin', George. I don't want no ketchup. I wouldn't eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me."

"If it was here, you could have some."

"But I wouldn't eat none, George. I'd leave it all for you. You could cover your beans with it and I wouldn't touch none of it." (1.93-95)

Lennie may not be able to look out for George, but he does what he can for his friend—like give him all the imaginary ketchup.