Why does Steinbeck make Lennie and George have such a strong friendship in Of Mice and Men? What is he trying to show the reader?
The friendship of Lennie and George began some time previously to the story’s beginnings. George had promised Lennie’s aunt that he would take care of Lennie. In this way, George becomes Lennie’s protector, often from Lennie’s own actions. Lennie looks to George to do the hard thinking for both of them. Their plan to buy their own place (with rabbits) is symbolic of their friendship. The world is a troubled place, which provides little protection for someone alone in the world, especially someone that is different. Their friendship serves as a fortress from those who would take away whatever strength they have together as friends.
Steinbeck uses this friendship to showcase the plight of the common man in contemporary America. During the Depression, people were faced with trouble and tragedy, usually out of no fault of their own. It is only in friendship, relying on each other, that there can be any comfort in this world. Lennie and George thus serve as Everyman, in which the reader can identify his/her own need for friendship, rather than facing life’s troubles alone.