When Lenny asks George why they are going to camp overnight instead of going all the way to the ranch, George replies,
"I like it here. Tomorra we're gonna go to work. I seen thrashin' machines on the way down. That means we'll be bucking grain bags, bustin' a gut. Tonight I'm gonna lay right here and look up. I like it".
The place where they camp is idyllic, alongside a river with "sycamore limbs rustl(ing) under a little wind". George wants to enjoy the peace and solitude before beginning the hard work that awaits them at the ranch. His decision to rest there also gives him a chance to familiarize Lenny with the area, and he tells Lenny to remember the place; if he gets in trouble he should return there, and George will come for him. This is important to the structure of the novel - the story begins and ends there by the river, and the description of the pastoral scene provides an eerie foreshadowing of what is to come.
George is described as
"small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features...small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose".
He is also smart, forward-thinking, and basically good-hearted; frustrated with the slower Lenny, he complains, but feels bad when he hurts Lenny's feelings. He is a poor man working hard to get by and fulfill his responsibility to care for Lenny.