How do George's motivations differ from Lennie's in Of Mice And Men?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Throughout the novel, both George and Lennie are propelled by their desire to own their own ranch one day. They dream of a day when they can be their own bosses and leave their itinerant ranch hand life behind. They claim they are different from other workers because they have each other and something to look forward to. George says,

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no fambly. They don't belong no place. …With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.” Lennie broke in. "But not us! An' why? Because... because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why."

Yet George is conflicted by his desire to live a life independent from Lennie, and he threatens Lennie with leaving over and over. George also feels obligated to help Lennie because of promises he made to his family. George genuinely cares for Lennie, but when Lennie becomes a liability, he must make a difficult choice.

Lennie does not have much choice in the novel but he knows that he is dependent on George for survival, so he tries to please George and keep their dream alive. His dream of taking care of the rabbits shows that Lennie just wants to be loved and accepted. Ultimately, he seeks this same love and acceptance from Curly’s wife, but it leads to a series of tragic events.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

George and Lennie share the dream of owning a farm one day. They both dislike the constant traveling that comes with being a ranch worker. Ideally, if they could raise enough money, they would buy a farm and settle down in one place. They differentiate themselves from other workers, who George and Lennie believe tend to be solitary wanderers with no aspirations of making a better future. George and Lennie, on the other hand, try to save their money, and they are always thinking about the future. In these respects, their motivations are quite similar.

George is torn between wanting to go off on his own and staying with Lennie. He knows he would have an easier time on his own, but he has grown fond of Lennie and feels like it is his duty to protect him. Lennie is aware of this, and that's why he tries his best to keep George happy. In this way, they differ. The dream of owning the farm is their shared motivation. Additionally, George is motivated by a need to protect Lennie. He feels obligated in the way that a father looks after his son. Lennie is also motivated by a need to make George proud, which is why he focuses so much on not screwing up.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial