George and Lennie had their dream of owning their own little farm and being independent. But George also had another dream which he was candid enough to describe to Lennie. He does this at considerable length in the first chapter when they are camping beside the river.
"God a'mighty, if...
I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cat house all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a poolroom and play cards or shoot pool....An' whatta I got," George went on furiously. "I got you!"
George is only half-involved with the dream he shares with Lennie. Candy is the catalyst who almost makes it happen. The old swamper has several hundred dollars he can contribute to the purchase of the little farm George knows about. But with Lennie out of the equation, the little farm is out of the question. George would be doing all the heavy work and living with an old man who wasn't much good with a missing hand and would keep getting feebler until he was a complete liability.
George's alternative dream would likely be the one that he would realize. For some reason he doesn't consider a practical, conventional and realizable course of finding a single woman--a widow, perhaps--who already has a little farm and would appreciate having a good man share it with her. George doesn't want a commitment. A cat house is his idea of love. A gallon of whiskey is his idea of happiness. With Lennie dead, George might end up like Crooks and Candy, old and barely hanging on to a job.
Lennie understands George's "alternative dream" and even sympathizes with him, as we see in the very last chapter when Lennie asks his friend to tell him what he would do if he were alone and free of responsibility. He encourages George to express his anger and frustration.
"Well, ain't you gonna say it?"
George shook himself. He said woodenly, "If I was alone I could live so easy." His voice was monotonous, had no emphasis. "I could get a job an' not have no mess." He stopped.
"Go on," said Lennie. "An' when the ends the month come--"
"An' when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks an' go to a . . . cat house . . ." He stopped again.
This is pitiful. Lennie is used to George's verbal abuse. Lennie seems to understand that their shared dream was nothing but a dream all along, one that never would come true. He is offering George his freedom. George will not be any happier without Lennie. It was Lennie who kept that other dream of freedom and independence alive. George will undoubtedly go on to live out his alternative dream. What choice does he have?