Discussion Topic

The nature, dynamics, and significance of the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men

Summary:

George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men is one of companionship and mutual dependence. George acts as a protector and caretaker for Lennie, who has a mental disability. Their bond is significant because it highlights themes of friendship and the human need for connection amidst the loneliness of the Great Depression. Their dynamic underscores the sacrifices and responsibilities inherent in such a relationship.

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How can you describe the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

To answer your question, consider two things: what belongs in an essay, and what points you want to make about the relationship between George and Lennie. Start with the points you want to make. Review the book, and the eNotes study guide on the characters. Pull out everything you can about the two men individually, and about how they interact. Then group them into clusters. Those would be your body paragraphs. The introduction should contain the thesis, which should emerge from this process. You'd want to craft a single clear sentence to close the introduction, one that sums up their relationship, something along the lines of "In the relationship between George and Lennie, readers can see the possibility and the perils of friendship." Then maybe one paragraph on their differences, one paragraph on the positives, and one on the negatives (for example). The conclusion would sum everything up and tell its meaning.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie have become like family. Even though Lennie is aggravating and often frustrates George, he has become as a family member to George. The two comfort one another. George is protective of Lennie. Lennie trusts George and he tries to obey George. George feels responsible for Lennie's actions:

George is essentially a good man. Throughout the novel, he is loyal and committed to Lennie. In fact, George takes complete responsibility for Lennie.

George had promised Lennie's aunt that he would take care of Lennie. He often yells at Lennie, but, deep in his heart, he cares about Lennie:

George had promised Lennie's aunt that he would look out for Lennie, and although George complains about having to take care of him, their friendship gives George someone with whom he can share his dream.

Lennie asks George to repeat the dream of buying their own home one day. George gives in to Lennie and repeats the dream of how they will buy a home and a have rabbits and a garden. Lennie loves to hear the dream. George pacifies Lennie with a repeat of telling the story of how they will buy a home and have rabbits and a garden.

Lennie depends on George. George preps Lennie on how to behave. Lennie tries his best to follow instructions. Lennie just does not realize his own strength. Lennie is too strong for his own good.

No doubt, George loves Lennie. They are company one for the other. George does feel responsible for Lennie's actions. When Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, George knows he must save Lennie from possibly hanging. As difficult as it is, George shoots Lennie to protect him from Curley who would abuse Lennie.

George is lost without Lennie:

Without Lennie, George is friendless and alone. While their partnership lasts, George and Lennie share a brotherly, mutual concern and loyal companionship. There is joy, security, and comfort in their relationship.

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What hints suggest the nature of George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

The relationship between George and Lennie begins when they are both young and Lennie's aunt, Clara, dies. George promises her he will take care of Lennie, a man who is cognitively delayed. By taking care of Lennie, George essentially gives up his personal freedom as well as his job security; Lennie will prove to be problematic everywhere they go due to his uncontrollable fits, his use of extreme strength, and his imposing build. 

Still, their relationship is symbiotic; both men need something from one another the very things that sometimes come as obstacles in their relationship. For instance, from the start of the novel, we learn that George, a relatively small-sized man, is in control of the duo. George calls the shots, decides where and when they will stop for the night, and he scolds Lennie when the latter acts out his strange behaviors. In the first part of the story, we see how George calls out Lennie about the mouse that Lennie is carrying in his pocket, which he accidentally kills from petting it too hard. George consistently accuses Lennie of being slow, of ruining his (George's) life, and for getting them in trouble all the time; all of these accusations, however cruel, are also true. 

Still, they remain together. Why? Because Lennie's strength and size compensates for George's smaller, less impressive frame. On the other hand, Lennie depends almost entirely on George's wit and quick thinking because Lennie's own mental capacity is limited. As such, he is the body while George is the brains. Together, they form one whole person. This is where the symbiotic nature of the relationship is evident. 

Moreover, they also remain together because they have absolutely nobody else to rely on. They have no family, no other friends and, as such, they greatly benefit from being each other's protectors and supporters.

We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us [one another]. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us."

On top of it, they do share a dream together: the dream of living "off the fat of the land" and being able to enjoy the benefits of farming for themselves, rather than doing it for others. These variables keep the men together. All of this gives us hints that their relationship is best considered fraternal because they act as if they are brothers that watch out for one another (probably better than brothers do), and they are also interconnected at many other levels: for protection, for support, for friendship, for company, and to help one another keep the dream of the land alive. 

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What quotes reveal the relationship between Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men?

Wrightkd just gave you a good one, and it's pretty straightforward for one to interpret.

Another good one occurs when in chapter 4 the guys go into town to Ol' Susie's place. Lennie wanders into Crooks place and Crooks challenges the relationship of Lennie and George. Lennie says:

I been with George a long time. He'll come back tonight-"

This shows the confidence Lennie has in George. Although, moments later he questions if George really will come back. Lennie relies on George as a father figure who takes care of him. He would be crushed if George didn't return. Crooks reaffirms for him:

You got George. You know he's goin' to come back. S'pose you didn't have nobody.

Crooks is trying to make Lennie realize how much he should value having the relationship with George that he does have.

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How does George improve his relationship with Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George has been Lennie’s caretaker for quite some time, ever since Lennie’s Aunt Clara died. Lennie has been a burden on George, who frequently laments that he could do better on his own. He remains with Lennie, however, knowing that Lennie could not make it on his own. George has to guard Lennie from his own actions, especially when he gets too excited, which usually results in big trouble for both of them.

At the ranch, however, George begins to make Lennie more independent of him, especially when the boss questions George about his interest in Lennie, since it is obvious that Lennie is innocent and vulnerable to manipulation. It is for Lennie’s own good that George puts some distance between them. Lennie responds to this by spending more time with his new puppy, which lessens his need for George’s constant companionship. When George goes to town, Lennie makes friends with Crooks and Candy. Paradoxically, this friendship with others puts Lennie on a more equal relationship with George. He becomes less of a tagalong as he begins to make his own life on the ranch. However, this proves disastrous, as he first kills the puppy which George warned him about, and then kills Curley’s wife. It is not just the crime that Lennie has committed that causes George to take Lennie’s life, but the realization that neither one of them is going to be able to fully protect themselves from disaster, and it is better that it is George who kills him, rather than the ranch hands. This realization is opposite of the foreshadowing of Carlson killing Candy’s dog, Candy proclaiming that he could not bring himself to put the dog out of its misery.

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What are the strengths and weaknesses in George and Lennie's relationship in "Of Mice and Men"?

George and Lennie have a complicated friendship and while it is extremely strong and entirely codependent, there are some weaknesses in its threads. George is often heard throughout the story calling Lennie names like "bastard", "dumb", "nuisance". While he half way means it he really does care about Lennie a lot. There are times in the story where George is overwhelmed at having to be responsible for Lennie and considers just leaving him behind because he's always getting into trouble. For example when Lennie got accused of raping the girl in Weed. George admits to Slim that when he first knew Lennie he was sometimes cruel to him. He would play mean jokes on him to make himself feel better. Once he said he told Lennie to jump in a river and Lennie did just as he was told and almost drowned. Lennie loves George unconditionally and is never mean to him, even when George is, which often times makes George feel even guiltier about the way he treated Lennie. While their friendship is mixed with a lot of guilt and regret, the two men make it work into a beautiful friendship.

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What are the strengths and weaknesses in George and Lennie's relationship in "Of Mice and Men"?

The relationship between George and Lennie is a symbiotic one because they need each other to succeed. Neither man is self-sufficient. Lennie obviously needs George to look after him and try to keep him out of trouble as well as find jobs for him while George needs Lennie with his tremendous strength to help George, a small man, obtain jobs on ranches. Brains and brawn describes their relationship. Together they plan to work and save enough money to buy their own place and "live off the fatta the land."

Without one, the other is less likely to succeed if not doomed altogether. When George kills Lennie to save him from a torturous death, the dream dies as well. George may be finally free of the responsibilities of looking after Lennie and taking care of his problems, but it is unlikely he will ever be able to make and save enough money to buy the little farm. 

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In Of Mice and Men, why is the relationship between George and Lennie considered unusual?

I would say that one particular reason why George and Lennie's relationship is unusual is that they show solidarity in a world that lacks it.  Nearly every other character in Steinbeck's work remarks at how together both of them are.  Neither one of them sells out the other.  In a harsh economic time when so many are fending for themselves, willing to betray another for money or some standing, George and Lennie stick to one another.  Lennie is willing to do anything for George, no matter how physically demanding.  At the same time, George honors the commitment he made to Lennie's Aunt Clara and never sacrifices his looking out for Lennie.  Even at moments when he could have or wished he would have left him, George never leaves Lennie.  It is this honoring one's word and sacrificing comfort for it that makes their relationship so unusual in this setting.  In the end, it is for this reason that the ending is so poignant.  There is no one else who could kill Lennie with a sense of mercy as George, as a last result and as the final act of him looking out for Lennie and honoring his promise.

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In Of Mice and Men, why is the relationship between George and Lennie considered unusual?

In the novel Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck , the characters of George and Lennie do share an unusually strong bond where they altruistically take care of each other for the sake of keeping each other safe and protected.

Keep in mind, however, that George and Lennie are cousins. They may as well be each other's only family. This is what leads the reader to realize that blood is, indeed, thicker than water. Yet, despite of this bond, the two men seem to want more than just to protect a friendship: They safeguard it.

This being said, we cannot set aside the fact that George is completely aware of the danger Lennie poses for himself and others. Already George has suffered from the consequences of Lennie's involuntary actions. It is because he has spent a lifetime trying to help Lennie that he now sees this duty as second nature.

Hence, the relationship between George and Lennie is a combination of duty, affection, family bond, responsibility, and loyalty.

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What qualities do George and Lennie bring out in each other in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie have an almost older/younger brotherly relationship, and there is a psychological dependency on both their parts.

In the opening scene of Steinbeck's novella, George and Lennie enter the clearing where they will camp for the night before going to work at the ranch the next day. While they are there, George has to scold Lennie to not drink too much water when they find the pond; then, he cautions him again to avoid water if it is not running. Later, in a childish fashion Lennie complains that he wants ketchup on his beans despite George's insisting that he has none. George must scold Lennie for playing with a mouse; in disgust, he tells Lennie that he could get along well without Lennie, and he could even have a girlfriend. But, when Lennie threatens to run off, in brotherly fashion, George confesses, 

"I want you to stay with me, Lennie....somebody'd shoot you for a coyote if you was by yourself."

While it is merely a pipe dream, there is much truth in George and Lennie's recitation of their hopes of owning a farm. When George recites how men like them have "nothing to look ahead to," Lennie becomes delighted, asking George to continue.

"With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us...."

Lennie breaks 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."

After a while, George confesses that with Lennie he has begun to believe in the dream. Just as Crooks speaks of the need of a man to have someone else by whom "to measure" himself, George and Lennie have each other, a fraternity, that gives their lives some meaning. While George tries to protect the child-like Lennie and offers him friendship. Lennie provides George companionship, meaning in life, and affection. All this is expressed in their recitation of their dream.

Robert Browning once wrote,

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?

George and Lennie give each other a grasp of something beyond the next ranch, the next job, the next meal. They give each other some hope during a time of great despair in America; they provide each other comfort in a comfortless world.

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Is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men sexual?

Your question about the nature of the relationship between the two principal characters in Of Mice and Men suggests many speculations about John Steinbeck's thinking while he was still working on the plot for this novel. If he were to write a story about two men who were buddies and were planning to buy a little farm and live together, the reader might be entitled to suspect that they were gay, because straight men would want to get married and have children like all the millions of other couples in America and elsewhere all over the world. This consideration may have been just one of the reasons why Steinbeck decided to make one of the men mentally incompetent and in need of supervision. Then it would be a simple matter to invent an Aunt Clara who asked George to look after Lennie.

By making Lennie an imbecile, Steinbeck achieved a secondary gain. If you refer to the Introduction in the eNotes Study Guide, you will see that Steinbeck intended to adapt his book into a stage play, and the play actually came out in New York in 1937, the same year the book was published. Stage plays rely heavily on dialogue. Steinbeck's novella also relies heavily on dialogue, evidently in order to simplify the conversion into a play. (It should also be noted that the novella contains only two simple interior sets and no exterior sets except for a campfire scene which would be easy to simulate on a stage with a fake campfire and mostly surrounding darkness.)

Because of Lennie's mental handicap, it becomes necessary for George to explain everything to him with patience, and in the process George is explaining all the essential information in the story to the reader and to the future audience. One familiar example is the scenes in which George is telling Lennie about the dream they share:

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. They come to a ranch an' work up a stake and then they go into town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they're poundin' their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to."

With Lennie's eager encouragement, George goes on to tell how they are going to own their own little farm and grow all their own food and raise animals, including the rabbits that Lennie especially loves to hear about. Most of the exposition in the novel comes by way of dialogue rather than straight prose, and most of the dialogue is between George and Lennie.

Because if George's caretaker role and Lennie's dependent role, it does not occur to most reader to suspect that there is any sexual element involved in the relationship, as could otherwise be the case if they were just two buddies of equal intelligence. Lennie displays a normal heterosexual interest in Curley's wife the moment he sees the flirtatious girl, and George expresses his normal heterosexuality when he talks about going to whorehouses. There is never any indication that these two men have any sexual attraction to each other.

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What is the nature of George and Lennie's unusual friendship in Of Mice and Men?

George looks out for Lennie, while Lennie provides companionship for George.

Although George and Lennie are not related, they each get something out of the relationship.  George looks out for Lennie, and he likes having someone there for him.  If George didn’t have Lennie, his life would be easier, but it would be lonely.

George complains about how difficult life is for him since he has to take care of Lennie all the time.

"Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. 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….” (Ch. 1)

However, despite this speech, George continues to go around with Lennie.  This is because despite the hassles Lennie causes, George would still rather have someone there than not.  George tells Slim it is “a lot nicer to go around with a guy you know.”  Slim is impressed that George and Lennie travel together.

"We kinda look after each other." He indicated Lennie with his thumb. "He ain't bright. Hell of a good worker, though. Hell of a nice fella, but he ain't bright. I've knew him for a long time." (Ch. 2)

Lennie is a hard worker, so George and Lennie can get jobs.  They can keep them too, as long as Lennie behaves himself. Sometimes Lennie gets into trouble without meaning to.  This is another reason why he needs George.  He looks to George for guidance, but when he gets in trouble George gets him out.  

George tells Slim that he used to tease Lennie out of frustration until he realized that Lennie would be loyal to him no matter what.  Lennie may be dumb, but that kind of loyalty means something to George.  He doesn't have the heart to be mean to him.  He yells at him sometimes, but he is never cruel.

Slim is impressed with Geroge and Lennie's relationship because most guys do not travel in pairs.  They look out for themselves and no one else.  They do not stay in one place very long, and it is a lonely and isolated life.  There is no consistency.  Having someone with you gives you something to count on.  Most guys have not found someone they can trust.  George and Lennie have found that.

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What are the functions of Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men?

Set in the emotionally desolate period of the Great Depression, George Milton and Lennie Small of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men exemplify the motif of the fraternity of men, a fraternity which offers support and friendship and meaning in men's lives in a time of desperate alienation. Like a refrain to chase away their loneliness, they remind themselves of their friendship,

"...We got a future.  We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.  We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go.  If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn.  But not us.

...because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you."

When George talks with Slim in Chapter 3, he tells Slim that men who go around alone all time get mean.  "They get wantin' to fight all the time."  And, Slim agrees, "They get so they don't want to talk to nobody."

In contrast to Lennie and George, the stable buck, Crooks expresses the desperate alienation that he suffers, telling Lennie that because he is alone, he never knows if what he sees is really there without being able to turn to another man and ask him whether he is right or not. "He [a man alone] got nothing to measure by."

Steinbeck himself wrote of his character Lennie Small,

"Lennie was not to represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men."

This yearning is that of sharing with others, for meaning depends upon sharing, as Crooks points out.  Meaning to one's life is what fraternity does provide, and Lennie and George represent this fraternity.

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Why do Lennie and George need each other in "Of Mice and Men"?

They both need a friend too. By the time you get to chapters 4-5, George leaves for the night and Crooks teases Lennie about George leaving him for good. Lennie knows George would never do that and Crooks discusses what it is like to be lonely. These guys both need each other for companionship. In fact, if you look at every other character, they are longing for relationship. It kills Candy to loose his dog. Curley and his wife have an empty marriage, Crooks is an outcast. The need for relationship is all over this book. This is what makes the end so difficult to grasp. Even though George gets relieved by having the responsibility for Lennie's actions over, he is hurt that he will not be able to have his friend anymore.

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Why do Lennie and George need each other in "Of Mice and Men"?

I think that it is easier to see why Lennie needs George than to see why George needs Lennie.

Lennie needs George for two reasons.  First, he needs George to keep him out of trouble.  Without George, Lennie is not really intelligent enough to make his own way in the world.  Second, he needs George to give him a dream to live for.  Lennie is probably not capable of making up his own dream and having a clear vision of that dream.

I think George needs Lennie because caring for Lennie makes him feel useful and important.  George does not appear to have that much going for him and I think that having someone who depends on him makes him feel like he is special to someone and that someone needs him.

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Explain the relationship between Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men.

It is possible to make deductions about the development of Steinbeck's novel from an idea into a novella and shortly afterward into a stage play. The author wanted to portray the hard lives of farm workers in California, a subject with which he was quite familiar from personal experience. He needed to focus on two characters and show them traveling from place to place in order to obtain jobs entailing hard labor for basic room and board and a tiny salary.

For many reasons most of the exposition in the story is conveyed through dialogue. One was that Steinbeck was very good at writing realistic dialogue that conveyed information and characterized the speaker at the same time. Other writers of his era who were also noted for their good dialogue-writing were Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain.

Another reason so much exposition is conveyed through dialogue is that Steinbeck intended to adapt the book immediately into a stage play. Since almost all information in a play is conveyed through characters talking to each other, Steinbeck used this technique in the novel so that the adaptation would not only be easy but also  faithful to the original.

Naturally he needed two characters talking to each other. Both had to be men because they had to be strong, tough farm workers who slept in bunkhouses. He wanted these two to share a dream of owning their own dirt farm. But this raised questions about their relationship. Many students have asked e-Notes about the relationship between George and Lennie. A few have even asked if they were "gay."

Why should two men want to share a farm when the normal pattern is for a man and a woman to own a farm, have children, and let the children care for them when they grow old? Steinbeck had to invent a reason. Maybe one man was handicapped and the other looked after him. But how could an invalid do hard field work? Maybe he was mentally handicapped but exceptionally strong and quite capable of hard labor. George has to explain everything to Lennie, and thus he is providing exposition to the reader as well.

This was probably how Lennie was born. George has to tell him what to do, but Lennie provides George with companionship and protection.

George (and his creator Steinbeck) seem defensive about the relationship--as if trying to make it clear that they are not "gay."

In Chapter 2 the boss asks George:

"Say--what you sellin'?"

"Huh?"

"I said what stake you got in this guy? You takin' his pay away from him?"

Then in Chapter 3, Slim tells George:

"Funny how you an' him string along together."

"What's funny about it?" George demanded defensively.

Notice how George is demanding defensively. He has been asked this question before. Other men have wondered about the relationship--although they don't even know that George and Lennie share a dream of jointly owning a farm. Steinbeck uses Slim's questions to have George explain how he and Lennie became traveling and working companions.

"It ain't so funny, him an' me goin' aroun' together," George said at last. "Him and me was both born in Auburn. I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while."

George and Lennie are definitely not gay, yet George is taking on a heavy responsibility and depriving himself of any chance to live a normal life with a wife and children and a little farm of their own.

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In Of Mice and Men, what is the relationship between George and Lennie, and is it symbolic or thematic?

The relationship of Lennie and George in "Of Mice and Men" is thematic. For, Steinbeck's belief in the interdependence of society is a theme he explores throughout the body of his works. Steinbeck regrets that "Man's dominion has broken Nature's social order." With Lennie and George there is, at least, a brotherhood, a brotherhood which gives meaning to their lives. The aloneness of the men causes problems.  Slim says of this,

I seen the guys that go around on the rnaces alone.  That ain't no good.  They don't have no fun.  After a long time they get mean.

Crooks, the black hustler alienated from the others remarks,

A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody.  Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you.

But, Lennie and George have each other.  In a promise to Lennie's aunt, George looks out for his mentally handicapped friend while Lennie defends them if necessary.  The two men struggle for a place in their Depression Era world and dream of independence, security, and a sanctuary where they will be safe.  So interdependent are Lennie and George that when George must shoot Lennie to keep him from persecution, George himself loses; he loses the dream, the childlike trust of Lennie which is a sanctuary for George. Lennie provides George with someone to help him "measure the world."

At the same time that they contribute to the motifs of the novel, the characters are also symbolic.  Lennie is representative of the yearning of all men and also symbolizes loyalty and trust.  He obeys George when George tells him to give up the mouse in the beginning of the novella.  When Curley threatens Lennie, Lennie looks at George and does not hit the man until George tells him to.  George represents love and compassion.  He tells Slim that it is not so strange that he and Lennie go around together.  Afterall, they were born in the same place and he knew Lennie's aunt.

When his Aunt Lara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'.  Got kinda used to each other after a little while.

George even takes responsibility for Lennie; he even takes responsibilty for killing him.  Before he shoots his friend, George responds to Lennie's worry that he is angry at him:

No, Lennie.  I ain't mad.  I never been mad, an' I ain't now.  That's a thing I want ya to know.

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How has George and Lennie's relationship evolved over time in Of Mice and Men?

George tells Slim that he used to tease Lennie a lot.

Used to play jokes on ‘im ‘cause he was too dumb to take care of ‘imself. But he was too dumb even to know he had a joke played on him.

George says he even beat him up.

I’ve beat the hell outa him, and he coulda bust every bone in my body jus’ with his han’s, but he never lifted a finger against me.

George says he’s given all that up. Once he told Lennie to jump in a river. He couldn’t swim, and Lennie and other men were barely able to save him. George felt badly about nearly killing Lennie, and he felt sheepish because Lennie was so grateful for be saved.

Since then, they have become quite dependent on each other. Lennie is physically dependent, as he probably couldn’t survive on his own. But he also is completely dependent emotionally. The mere thought of leaving George causes Lennie to panic.

George often complains that Lennie is a nuisance and keeps him from having a good life. However, it becomes clear that George cares deeply for Lennie and depends on his companionship. Lennie's work capacity is also a source of money and pride for George. We learn near the end that Lennie’s desire for rabbits kept George’s own dream alive.

As for who was listening, the old man Candy listened to them talking in the bunk house. His desire to join them and contribute his savings made the dream actually seem to be within reach. Crooks, the black stable hand, also hears Lennie and Candy speak of their plans.

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What is the nature of George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie have a special bond that, unfortunately , is viewed with suspicion by others.

 "Ain't many guys travel around together … I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other"

Lennie's poor skills and his overwhelming panic ultimately cause the death of Curley's wife and still George feels responsible for him. Lennie, mentally challenged and not aware of his own strength; also having a need to touch everything, has already killed, amongst other small animals, a puppy by being too rough. This foreshadows events to follow.

George took responsibility for Lennie a long time ago, after a promise to Aunt Clara, as Lennie is compromised in social situations and does not know how to behave. His actions are often misintepreted and George, as Lennie's caretaker, has had to get Lennie out of difficult situations before.

Lennie is childlike and often described in association with animals. As with animals, he is unpredictable and completely unaware that his strength can cause harm.

George takes his responsibility for Lennie very seriously and without him, George

is friendless and alone.

 The friendship keeps the dream alive of having their own farm and Lennie is instrumental in keeping that dream going throughout the story. George needs this relationship as much as Lennie depends on it.  

It does sometimes consume George and his anger is evident - "I been mean, ain't I?" - but he makes, what he sees as the ultimate sacrifice, when he feels that the only way to protect Lennie from himself ,as well as from the Law, is to kill him.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie represent the fraternity of men in a time of great alienation.  Dring the 1930s, so many men traveled in the boxcars of trains to lonely places where they worked lonely jobs with no one that they knew or trusted.  But, George and Lennie are friends and together their lives are more meaningful.  While George looks out for Lennie, Lennie offers George love as well as being the keeper of the dream.  Without Lennie, George has little hope.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

I guess you could say, in a modern sense, that they are co-dependent.  On the surface, it appears as though Lennie needs George and that George feels obligated, is weighted down by or wishes he didn't have to be Lennie's caretaker.  But it becomes obvious throughout the story that George needs Lennie just as much.  They are each the closest thing the other has to family.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie are family, even though they are not related. They only have each other. No one else in the world cares about their existence. The two of them are fortunate to have each other. Many of the ranch hands have no one who cares. George will be lost without Lennie. In fact, he tells Candy the dream is over. George no longer dreams. A dream is important if you have someone to share it. Without Lennie, George will have an empty place in his heart.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George is an honorable man who takes his responsibility to Lennie quite seriously, even if he does get frustrated with him at times. The life George and Lenny live is suited to the two of them, but it is a lonely life. Having someone to share a dream with is important when you live this kind of restless, rootless, nomadic life. Their relationship is symbiotic--each of them needs the other. 

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

Their relationship was in some regards a simple one, yet George found a new phase of his life open up when he found himself the caretaker of Lennie. In many ways, he only did it because he had made a promise, but, over time, he came to do it because he and Lennie needed each other and shared a silent loving respect for each other.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George is like a parent to Lennie - he looks after their work cards, organises their food and job plans. He tries to steer Lennie into behaviour that is acceptable and tries in vain to make his big childlike friend appear to be a competent adult. Lennie is a fast and efficient worker who is happy to work hard with George at his side. Together they make an adequate team.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George is Lennie's protector. He looks out for Lennie and tries to instruct him as he can. He knows Lennie does not understand and never will, so they travel together and George gets Lennie work. George protects Lennie because he needs companionship.
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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

I think that the best way to characterize this relationship is to say that each of them depends on the other.  Lennie needs George in obvious ways to take care of him given his mental shortcomings.  But George also needs Lennie.  Lennie improves George as a person.  He allows George to be something other than a selfish and aimless person.  He gives George the chance to be something more.  For that reason, he is as important to George as George is to him.

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

The relationship between George and Lennie is the primary focus of Steinbeck's classic novella Of Mice and Men. Both George and Lennie are migrant workers who travel the country looking for work as manual laborers during the Great Depression. George and Lennie's relationship is unique among migrant workers, who typically travel the country alone. George plays the role of Lennie's guardian and protector, while Lennie provides George with much-needed camaraderie. The two friends also share the same dream of one day owning a homestead, where they will live off of the "fatta the lan" and raise rabbits. George tries his best to keep Lennie out of trouble and gives him important advice when they arrive on the unwelcoming, hostile ranch.

Tragically, George cannot prevent Lennie from making costly mistakes, and Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife. Following the accidental manslaughter, George demonstrates loyalty and mercy toward Lennie by shooting him in the back of the head to prevent Curley and his lynch mob from torturing Lennie. Overall, Steinbeck explores the importance of friendship and camaraderie in the midst of a difficult environment by examining George and Lennie's unique relationship.

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

There's plenty of quotes that emphasize Lennie and George's unique, conflicting relationship. I can help you identify and talk about some of them.

Guys like us got no fambly. They make a little stake an' then they blow it in. They ain't got nobody in the worl' that gives a hoot in hell about 'em —

Those are George’s words. They come near the end of the novel, prompted by Lennie. Lennie interrupts George with, “But not us.” The quote shows the deep connection between the two. It also shows how their connection contrasts with other people in their predicament. Other people are lonely and alienated. They don’t have meaningful relationships. Yet George and Lennie mean something to one another. They do give “a hoot in hell” about each other’s welfare.

Le’s do it now. Le’s get that place now.

This time, it’s Lennie who’s speaking. He’s asking George to, once again, remind him of the land they’ll buy and all of the animals that they’ll care for on that land. You could argue that the quote highlights the rather contrary nature of this moment in their relationship. George does really care about Lennie, but he is also about to Kill Lennie. Before he kills him, he acts as if it won’t be long before their dream of owning land comes true. George is tricking Lennie, but it seems to be for a kind reason. He seems to be lulling Lennie into a comfortable mindset so that he won't die scared but instead die happy. If George didn’t kill Lennie, he will likely be killed far more cruelly by Curley. You might say George’s deep concern for Lennie is what leads him to take his life.

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

This, too, is Lennie. It comes at the start of the book. As you might remember, the book begins with Lennie aching from some ketchup to go along with his beans. George is quite annoyed and yells at Lennie about the ketchup (and some other issues). After that, Lennie walks back his demand for ketchup. You could argue this quote shows the power dynamic of their relationship. Lennie doesn’t want to bother George. He wants to please George and be agreeable to him. It’s almost as if Lennie is like a child and George is like a parent. George is the one with the power. He's the grownup.

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

Lennie, for God’s sakes don’t drink so much. . . . You gonna be sick like you was last night.

In the quote above, very early in the novel, George shows his caretaking role in Lennie's life. Even when it comes to something as simple as drinking water, Lennie depends on George to help him show restraint.

Look, Lennie! This here ain’t no setup. I’m scared. You gonna have trouble with that Curley guy. I seen that kind before.

Curley is small and wants to demonstrate his manhood against the much larger Lennie. George reveals his honesty in telling Lennie he is scared, showing they have a close relationship and that George doesn't have to fear that Lennie will think less of him for revealing vulnerability. This is a striking contrast to the way he verbally spars with Curley and won't give ground. George again exhibits his caretaking ability in this quote in warning Lennie to steer clear of Curley, who is the ranch owner's son as well as a difficult personality.

What you supposin’ for? Ain’t nobody goin’ to suppose no hurt to George.

Lennie says this in a threatening way to Crooks. Crooks has just teased him, a bit cruelly, about the possibility that the absent George is injured or in trouble. Lennie shows he is equally protective toward George as George is toward him, though Lennie presents this in a more physical way. The large, strong Lennie is more than willing to fight anyone he feels threatens his closest friend.

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

George is responsible for Lennie, and sometimes the difficulties of his responsibilites frustrate him.  He complains to Lennie,

"An' whatta I got...I got you!  You can't keep a job and you lose me ever' job I get.  Jus' keep me shovin' all over the country all the time.  An' that ain't the worst.  You get in trouble.  You do bad things and I got to get you out...you keep me in hot water all the time".

Despite the frustrations of taking care of Lennie, however, George appreciates that the two of them have a special bond which keeps them from being lonely.  He says,

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.  They got no family.  They don't belong no place...with us it ain't like that...we got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us...if them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn.  But not us...An' why?  Because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why".

George and Lennie share a dream.  When things are tough, they hopefully remind themselves,

"Someday - we're gonna get the jack together and we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some pigs and...a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens".

And best of all, if Lennie is good, George promises,

"I can let you tend the rabbits" (Chapter 1).

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

Just before Lennie and George go into meet Curley for the first time, George tells Lennie in no uncertain terms to let him do the talking:

Now, look- I'll give him the
work tickets, but you ain't gonna say a word. You jus' stand there and don't say nothing.

George is worried that if Lennie opens his mouth, the boss will immediately figure out that he has learning difficulties and so won't hire him or George. The best thing for both of them, then, is for Lennie to keep his mouth shut. Unfortunately, things don't quite go according to plan. Curley is unnerved by Lennie's silence. For good measure, Lennie repeats Curley's words—"strong as a bull"—right back at him, giving the impression that he's being insolent.

A great example of a friendship quotation comes in the same scene. Much to Curley's surprise, George tells him that he doesn't intend to take Lennie's pay. Curley replies:

Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is.

The uniqueness of George and Lennie's friendship is clear from this remark. It's obvious that in his many years of experience as boss on his old man's ranch, Curley has never seen such an expression of friendship before. When George tells him that he's not going to take Lennie's money Curley immediately thinks he's working some kind of angle; that's why he asks George what his interest is. It's patently obvious that Curley doesn't understand the true meaning of friendship, which is not surprising when you consider he doesn't actually have any friends.

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

On the night before they go to the ranch to work, George and Lennie, sit by a pool of water and talk.  As George bemoans "the swell time I could have without you," Lennie becomes hurt and says he will go away and leave George alone. George apologizes, saying,

No--look!  I was jus' foolin', lennie.  'Cause I want you to stay with me.  Jesus Christ, somebody'd shoot you for a coyote if you was by yourself.  No, you stay with me.  Your Aunt Clara wouldn't like you running off by yourself, even if she is dead.


After this, Lennie asks George to tell him about the "rabbits."  George's voice deepens and he talks.  As he recites the "dream" they have of owning a ranch and having rabbits, George says,

Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.  They got no family...They ain't got nothing to look ahead to....With us it ain't like that.  We got a future.  We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.  We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack ....If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn.  But not us."

Certainly, George demonstrates his being a good friend, too, when he instructs Lennie as to what to do if he gets into trouble.  He tells Lennie,

I want you to look around here.  You can remember this place, can't you?  The ranch is about a quarter mile up that way.  Just follow the river?

(Ironically, Lennie does have to run to this place after accidentally killing Curley's wife.)

When the boss questions them the second day upon their arrival at the ranch, George tells this boss that Lennie is not much of a talker, but

...he's sure a hell of a good worker.  Strong as a bull....He's a good skinner.  He can rassel grain bags, drive a cultivator.  He can do anything . Just give him a try....Oh! I ain't saying he's bright...But...he's a damn good worker.  He can put up a four hundred pound bale.

When the boss becomes suspicious of George's praising Lennie so much, George lies to protect his friend, saying that Lennie is his cousin and

I told his old lady I'd take care of him.  He got kicked in the head by a horse when he was a kid.  He's awright.  Just ain't bright.  But he can do anything you tell him.

In a tragic way in the final section of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," George repeats many of his same words of friendship to Lennie.  He assures Lennie before he shoots him,

No, Lennie. I ain't mad.  I never been mad, an' I ain't now.  That's a thing I want ya to know.

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

George spends most of the play either speaking for Lennie or defending him to others. An obvious example is the repeated dream of living in a house together and raising rabbits (Act I, Scene 1). George defends Lennie's strength and work habits to the Boss (Act I, Scene 2), and then warns Candy about Lennie's strength and how he may react to a fight with Curly (Act I, Scene 2). George later calls Lennie "a nuisance," but then tells Slim that "he's like a kid. There ain't no more harm in him than a kid neither..." (Act II, Scene 1). He defends Lennie until the end, when he himself must put an end to Lennie's string of strength-related calamities.

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

At the beginning of the story, Lennie threatens to leave George and run away and live by himself in the hills. The threat is of course a childish bluff, calculated to make George feel guilty for shouting at Lennie. George's response, however, does help us to understand the degree of Lennie's dependence upon George. George tells Lennie: "somebody'd shoot you for a coyote if you was by yourself." George's response is perhaps hyperbolic, but it does, nonetheless, have some truth to it. Lennie very much depends upon George to keep him safe.

Later in the story, in Crooks' room, Lennie is confronted with the possibility that George might not return from town. Lennie momentarily doubts that George will return, and this doubt is described as "too much for him." Crooks then taunts Lennie with the possibility that George won't return, and Lennie's face "wrinkle(s) with apprehension." These reactions from Lennie indicate just how much he depends upon George. Without George, Lennie would be lost, and his reactions indicate that he is very much aware of this.

At the end of the story, Lennie asks George to tell him once more about the future that he still believes they will have together. George tells Lennie that they will get "a little place" together and that Lennie will get to "tend the rabbits." Hearing this story again, Lennie "giggle(s) with happiness." Lennie responds similarly many times throughout the story, each time George tells him about the land and the future they will have together. These reactions show how much Lennie depends upon George for hope and for happiness.

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

You might want to focus on the opening chapter and consider how the characters are presented and what that says about their relationship. From the very start, it is clear that George is in a position of power over Lennie, and as the story develops, we discover more precisely of what that position of power entails and about their relationship. Consider, for example, how George is described as leading the way into the clearing, with Lennie walking behind. It is clear that George is the leader.

Then think of what George says to Lennie when Lennie starts drinking water from the pool:

"Lennie!" he said sharply. "Lennie, for God's sakes don't drink so much." Lennie continued to snort into the pool. The small man leaned over and shook him by the shoulder. "Lennie. You gonna be sick like you was last night."

Note the way that Lennie is presented here, as we see him "snorting into the water like a horse." He is clearly unable to know what is good and what is not good for him, and lacks both restraint and sense. It is George's job to look after him and to make sure he doesn't hurt himself, like he has already done from drinking too much the night before. George is clearly the carer of Lennie, because Lennie is not able to look after himself.

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In Of Mice and Men, what are some good quotes that have to deal with George caring for Lennie?

Early in "Of Mice and Men" the reader perceives that the role of George is not simply friend, but of an older brother to Lennie.  George patronizes Lennie, but in a caring way.  He teaches Lennie their slogan:  "But not us! an' why?  because...I got you to look after me, and you go me to look after you, and that's why"  They are going to "live off the fatta the lan'...an' have rabbits..." and a vegetable patch.  George plans for the future  include Lennie.

If Lennie gets into trouble, George instructs him,"Get into the brush till I come for you."  When Lennie and George are hired, he cautions Lennie, "keep your big flapper shut...be careful."  He warns Lennie not to speak to Curley:  "Just don't have nothing to do with him.  Will you remember?" George fears for Lennie because before Lennie has caused them to be fired, he has engaged in fights, and broken things.  Yet, like a brother, George tells Lennie that if Curley comes at him, to "let 'im have it."

 George speaks proudly of Lennie, when he is complimented as a good worker, " Jus'tell Lennie what to do an' he'll do it if it dont' ...he sure can take orders." When Slim says that it is odd that they go around together, George demurs, "Got kinda used to each other..."

Right before the "mercy" killing of Lennie, George declares, "I ain't mad.  That's a thing I want ya to know."

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What quotes depict George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men?

George's extreme final action toward Lennie shows his deep love for his mentally challenged friend. Rather than let Lennie be shot by Curley or abused by law enforcement he kills Lennie himself. George felt he had no choice and that it was the best thing to do for his friend. The sentiment is echoed by Slim who tells George he had no choice.

George often treats Lennie like a parent would treat an unruly child. And it's difficult not to see the affection he has for Lennie. In chapter one he apologizes to Lennie for getting angry and not letting him have the mouse. He tells Lennie about the dream and how Lennie will get to take care of the rabbits. The fact Lennie is part of the plan shows that George cares for the big man. George says,

“With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit-in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.” 

In chapter one George promises to get Lennie a puppy. He tells Lennie,

“Tell you what I’ll do, Lennie. First chance I get I’ll give you a pup. Maybe you wouldn’t kill it. That’d be better than mice. And you could pet it harder."

In chapter two they learn that Slim has a litter of puppies and before long Lennie has his own puppy, just as George had promised. In chapter three George tells Slim about how he used to play tricks on his friend but stopped after Lennie almost drowned. He also explains to Slim that Lennie is not mean and that he has grown accustomed to traveling around with him.

Again in chapter three George talks about the dream and explains Lennie's role in raising rabbits. George says,

“Sure, you’d go out in the alfalfa patch an’ you’d have a sack. You’d fill up the sack and bring it in an’ put it in the rabbit cages.”

At the close of that chapter after Lennie fights Curley, George consoles him and tells him he did the right thing. He says,

George turned to Lennie. “It ain’t your fault,” he said. “You don’t need to be scairt no more. You done jus’ what I tol’ you to."

In chapter five, after Curley's wife is found dead in the barn, George again sticks up for Lennie when he tells Candy,

“Lennie never done it in meanness,” he said. “All the time he done bad things, but he never done one of ‘em mean.” 

In the final chapter, George does his best to kill his friend with mercy. He talks of the dream and how Lennie will get to tend the rabbits. He tells Lennie to imagine that the farm was just across the river. He also expresses his hope that one day the world might be different and that people like Lennie would be better understood. He tells his friend,

"Ever’body gonna be nice to you. Ain’t gonna be no more trouble. Nobody gonna hurt nobody nor steal from ‘em.”

The killing of Lennie is an act of compassion by a friend who very much cares about the man's well being. George's action is perfectly justifiable and illustrates his devotion to Lennie. 

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How did George and Lennie meet in Of Mice and Men?

During a conversation with Slim, George Milton explains to him how he became friends with Lennie Small and began traveling the country with Lennie in search of work. George mentions that he and Lennie both grew up in Auburn, Alabama and George knew Lennie's Aunt Clara. Aunt Clara was Lennie's guardian, who took Lennie in as a baby and raised him. After Aunt Clara passed away, Lennie began following and working with George wherever he went. George tells Slim that they got used to being around each other and remained close friends ever since. George proceeds to explain to Slim how he used to play tricks on Lennie until they didn't amuse him any longer. Fortunately, George and Lennie's friendship continued to grow, and the two became virtually inseparable.

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How did George and Lennie meet in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie met as a result of George originally meeting and getting to know Lennie's Aunt Clara. She was the woman who devoted a part of her life to rearing Lennie. Upon her death, George Milton became the guardian of Lennie, as his protector, as Lennie is of limited mental acuity.

Lennie’s full name in this novel by writer John Steinbeck is Lennie Small, the last name a literary device that is indicative of how the world sees Lennie as concerns his mental ability, but not how they see him physically, as he is of great strength.

George, through knowing Lennie’s Aunt Clara, came to know Lennie and agreed to take on the responsibility of caring for Lennie upon her death. Lennie and George have been friends since childhood. Later in life, this leads to George and Lennie traversing California in search of better job (and overall life) prospects. They dream of living peacefully and working off the land together – a quiet, humble life that is not to be for Lennie, and ultimately, maybe not even George when all is said and done in his life.

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How did George and Lennie meet in Of Mice and Men?

George knew Lennie's aunt, who used to care for Lennie.  When she dies, George promises to look after and take care of Lennie.

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How did George and Lennie meet in Of Mice and Men?

One can surmise from the text that George and Lennie, the two main characters in John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men, have been friends since childhood and that they began traveling together since the death of Lennie's Aunt Clara.

There are a few passages which lead to this conclusion. In chapter one George makes reference to Aunt Clara after Lennie retrieves the dead mouse George has taken away from him. Lennie, because of his mental disability, can't remember who first gave him mice to pet. George says,

“Lady, huh? Don’t even remember who that lady was. That was your own Aunt Clara. An’ she stopped givin’ ‘em to ya. You always killed ‘em.” 

In chapter three George gives the best explanation for the relationship between he and Lennie when he's talking to Slim in the bunkhouse. Slim says it's not often that he sees men traveling together. George explains,

“Him and me was both born in Auburn. I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin’. Got kinda used to each other after a little while.” 

Later in that chapter George gives more evidence about how long the two have been friends while discussing Curley's wife and how she could get them into trouble:

“You remember Andy Cushman, Lennie? Went to grammar school?”

“The one that his old lady used to make hot cakes for the kids?” Lennie asked.

“Yeah. That’s the one. You can remember anything if there’s anything to eat in it.” George looked carefully at the solitaire hand. He put an ace up on his scoring rack and piled a two, three and four of diamonds on it. “Andy’s in San Quentin right now on account of a tart,” said George.

The fact that Lennie has been with George for so long makes the ending even more poignant. It would be hard to imagine killing so close a friend.

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What does George and Lennie's speech and behavior in Of Mice and Men reveal about their relationship?

As this question usually references the conversation between George and Lennie in chapter 1, I will answer the question accordingly. Note, however, that the observations below are true even when referencing other conversations between the two in the rest of the novel.

Below, I'll attempt to show that George and Lennie have a codependent relationship. A codependent relationship is where one person is bonded to another who takes on the role of caretaker and protector. In George and Lennie's relationship, George is the caretaker. Lennie depends on George for protection, emotional support, and direction in life. Like many codependents, Lennie has low self-esteem, and his self-image is dependent on making George happy.

Throughout the novel, Lennie never transitions into a separate, self-determining character. He always looks to George for direction and approval. In chapter 1, Lennie initially refuses to eat the beans George has prepared because there's no ketchup. However, after George voices his frustration, Lennie relents.

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

During their conversation, George complains about being burdened by Lennie. His main complaint is that Lennie often takes inappropriate liberties with women, which leads to difficulties for both of them.

"You crazy son-of-a-bitch. You keep me in hot water all the time. ..."

"Jus' wanted to feel that girl's dress—jus' wanted to pet it like it was a mouse—"

"Well, how the hell did she know you jus' wanted to feel her dress? She jerks back and you hold on like it was a mouse. She yells and we got to hide in a irrigation ditch all day with guys lookin' for us, and we got to sneak out in the dark and get outta the country. All the time somethin' like that."

Lennie, being acutely aware of his own challenges, doesn't argue with George. Despite George's brutal honesty, Lennie doesn't retaliate in words. He only manages to look anguished, which in turn makes George feel remorseful.

George looked quickly and searchingly at him. "I been mean, ain't
I?"


"If you don' want me I can go off in the hills an' find a cave. I can
go away any time."


"No—look! I was jus' foolin', Lennie. 'Cause I want you to stay
with me."

It's quite clear that George feels responsible for Lennie. For his part, Lennie fears conflict with George, so he does everything he can to massage George's ego. To divert his attention from the trouble he gives George, Lennie slyly coaxes George into a retelling of their dream, where they own land and raise rabbits. Each time George protests against telling a story he's told many times before ("You ain't gonna put nothing over on me"), Lennie redirects him.

After the retelling, George gets serious. He asks Lennie how Lennie should act when they meet with the ranch boss the next day. Lennie, of course, dutifully repeats what he's promised to do: remain silent while George does the speaking for both of them. So, from this conversation (and others in the story), we see that George and Lennie have a codependent relationship, with George playing the role of caretaker and Lennie taking on the role of dependent.

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How did George and Lennie meet in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie have known one another since boyhood. George tells people that they are cousins, but it is not true—it is just a simpler explanation than the real story. In reality, they grew up together in Auburn. Lennie’s Aunt Clara took Lennie in when he was a baby and raised him. George knew Aunt Clara and therefore has known Lennie since he was young.

After Aunt Clara died, George became a guardian of sorts to Lennie, and Lennie just began to accompany George wherever he went. As George says to Slim,

When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while.

George feels a sense of responsibility for his friend because he is the nearest thing to family that Lennie has after Aunt Clara's death. Moreover, George also deeply regrets that when they were younger, he used to taunt Lennie the way other people did. Now, he understands that it was wrong to treat him that way, as Lennie is innocent and well-meaning. George now genuinely cares for Lennie, and the two have become inseparable.

After the incident in Weed that forces both men to flee town, George takes precautions and comes up with a plan in the event things go similarly awry at their new job. George and Lennie make a pact that if anything happens, Lennie is to go hide in the brush and wait for George. George makes Lennie repeat the instructions so that he is sure that Lennie will follow them:

"Well, look Lennie—if you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done be fore, I want you to come right here an’ hide in the brush."

"Hide in the brush," said Lennie slowly.

"Hide in the brush till I come for you. Can you remember that?"

"Sure I can, George. Hide in the brush till you come."

After Lennie kills Curley’s wife and runs away, he does exactly what George told him to do. This is how George knows where Lennie will be hiding and is able to find him before the other men do.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

The friendship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men is more like the relationship between family members. There are occasional times when the two seem like brothers or cousins, but most of the time, George seems like the parent to Lennie. He protects and instructs Lennie. For instance, when the two are making their trek to find work, they are thirsty and come upon a body of water. Lennie immediately drinks because he is thirsty. George, however, instructs Lennie that this is not a wise thing to do. He says,

Tastes all right. ... Don't really seem to be running, though. You never oughta drink water when it ain't running, Lennie. ... You'd drink out of a gutter if you was thirsty.

Further on, George asks Lennie if he has remembered his work card and bus ticket. Lennie’s hand clutches at his coat pocket, but he realizes that he does not have his card and ticket. In response, George says,

I got both of 'em here. Think I'd let you carry your own work card?

George also usually speaks for Lennie when others are present. This is because Lennie is fearful of outsiders and gets confused. For instance, when the two men apply for work, the boss asks where they have been working. George answers that they had been working “up around Weed.” The manager asks if that applies to Lennie, as well. Before Lennie even has a chance to respond, George answers. When the boss says that Lennie “ain’t much of a talker," George boasts,

No, he ain't, but he's sure a hell of a good worker. Strong as a bull.

Far from resenting George for his parental stance and authority, Lennie is happy and comforted by it. He smiles when George focuses on him and he looks to George for protection. In the scene with the boss after George boasts about Lennie’s strength, Lennie smiles to himself and repeats "strong as a bull" in his childlike manner.

That Lennie looks to George for protection is somewhat ironic, as Lennie is a large man who possesses great strength, which is an element of the move towards the climax of the book.

George was not always as nice to Lennie as he is now. However, as he grew to understand Lennie, he realizes that he needs to take care of him because Lennie would not really be able to survive on his own. When the boss asks George why he stays with Lennie, George responds,

“Why ya think I'm sellin' him out?"

"Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is."

George said, "He's my ... cousin. I told his old lady I'd take care of him. He got kicked in the head by a horse when he was a kid. He's awright. Just ain't bright. But he can do anything you tell him."

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Is the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men friendship or obligation?

Lennie and George are friends, but because of Lennie's mental handicap, George does primarily take on a caretaker role with him. Evidence of George's caretaking can be found througout the novella. One example would be George's careful coaching of Lennie before they arrive at the ranch:

Now, look—I’ll give him the work tickets, but you ain’t gonna say a word. You jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing.

George also carries Lennie's "work card" to make sure it won't get lost.

At the ranch, George is sufficiently unnerved by Curley that he again coaches Lennie on how to behave. He tells Lennie that Curley is the type of person who will make trouble for him, and then get him "canned" or fired because he is the boss's son. George tells Lennie:

Look, Lennie. You try to keep away from him, will you? Don’t never speak to him. If he comes in here you move clear to the other side of the room.

George promises Lennie to ask Slim for one his puppies. George also takes care of Lennie by telling him over and over the story of what life will be like when they own their own farm.

At the end of the book, George takes on a very sad caretaking function when he shoots Lennie to save him from Curley's vengeance.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

George and Lennie have a strange relationship in the novel. George is the smaller man, who is smart and works hard, but he is eternally bound and bonded to Lennie, a much larger man who is mentally deficient. Lennie is constantly getting himself and George, by association, into trouble because he doesn’t understand his own strength. Despite the trouble that Lennie puts George through, it is apparent that George cares deeply for Lennie and that they have been friends and quasi-brothers for many years.

The extent of George’s care for Lennie can be seen clearly in the care he takes to kill Lennie gently at the end of the novel. George has Lennie describe their fairytale farm, the land they planned to buy together, while he uses the stolen gun to shoot Lennie to save him from the lynch mob. George loves Lennie deeply, enough that he doesn’t want to see his friend in pain, but it's also easy to recognize the cost of this sacrifice because they have been bonded together for so long.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

George and Lennie are sustained by their friendship with each other, which is depicted in the novel as a rare situation among the migrant workers.

At first, their relationship might appear dysfunctional: Lennie comes across in the first chapter as whiny and manipulative while George seems abrasive and bullying. Nevertheless, we quickly discover that they depend on each other.

Lennie's dependency on George is apparent. As a mentally handicapped man, Lennie is utterly reliant on George's guidance to survive. George tells Lennie what to do and how to behave so they both can get hired at the ranch.

George's dependence on Lennie is more subtle. He desperately needs Lennie's companionship or life on the road would become unbearably lonely for him. Further, he likes being in charge. Sometimes--or often--he get impatient and frustrated with Lennie, but he also needs somebody who will be guided by him. He takes seriously his role as Lennie's caretaker.

Most importantly, their companionship helps them stay focused on their shared dream and goal of owning their own farm and in that way, achieving independence and escape from the life of migrant work.

The other ranch hands have some envy of the friendship Lennie and George share--and most are deeply attracted to the idea of owning a small farm. Together, Lennie and George are much stronger than apart.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

George Milton and Lennie Small have a unique friendship and travel throughout the western United States together looking for work. Unlike the majority of migrant workers, who travel alone, George and Lennie stick together, and their comradery makes their difficult, unpredictable lives significantly easier. They get along most of the time and provide each other with much-needed social interaction and moral support.

George and Lennie grew up together in Auburn, Alabama, and George promised Lennie's Aunt Clara that he would look after him when she passed away. Since Lennie is intellectually disabled, George assumes the role of his guardian and protector. In turn, Lennie's comradery and friendship help George endure his difficult life as a migrant worker. Both George and Lennie also share the same dream, which is to live together on their own estate, where they plan to "live off the fatta lan'." George values independence, and Lennie simply wants to raise and pet fluffy rabbits. Although Lennie continually frustrates George and keeps them in hot water, George remains loyal to him and tries his best to protect Lennie at all costs. Tragically, George is forced to kill Lennie out of mercy at the end of the story to prevent Curley's lynch mob from torturing him.

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What keeps George and Lennie together in Of Mice and Men?

On the face of it, it would appear that these two men ordinarily wouldn't know each other, let alone be such close friends. Apart from their status as itinerant farm laborers, they don't appear to have much in common.

But the truth is that Lennie and George need each other. As Lennie has an intellectual disability, he's vulnerable to exploitation, and he would not be able to make his way in their world on his own. Not only that, but without someone like George around to guide him, he's liable to wind up getting into serious trouble. (He manages to do so even with George around, but that's another story).

As for George, he made Lennie's Aunt Clara a solemn promise that he would always take care of the big guy, and George is nothing if not a man of integrity. Besides, having someone as big and strong as Lennie accompany him on his travels can be useful. It's a hard life being an itinerant farm laborer, traveling around from place to place, bumping into all kinds of unsavory characters along the way, so it pays to have someone by your side with the necessary physical strength to deter anyone from trying to rob or attack you.

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Discuss the power dynamic in George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men.

George has power over Lennie in the sense that, unlike Lennie, he doesn't have any learning difficulties or disabilities. One could argue, then, that George's power derives from privilege. That doesn't mean, however, that George lords it over Lennie or that he dominates or controls him in any way because for George, with power comes responsibility. George is determined to ensure that he uses his power responsibly to protect Lennie, in keeping with the promise he made to Lennie's Aunt Clara.

At the same time, Lennie uses his enormous physical power to protect George. In the tough world of itinerant farm-workers, this is an important power to have. However, it doesn't in any way alter the fundamental dynamic at the heart of George and Lennie's relationship, for unlike George, Lennie has little understanding of what it means to exercise power responsibly. The problem for Lennie is that he just doesn't know his own strength, and this keeps him in a position of subordination with regards to George.

It's notable that, even in the dream life they envisage together, it's George who gets to run the ranch while Lennie takes care of the rabbits. So even if their dreams came true, the fundamental power imbalance between the two men would remain.

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How is the complexity of Lennie and George's friendship portrayed in Of Mice and Men?

Lennie and George have a friendship based on mutual need. In fact, they each seem dependent on the other. Lennie, being mentally handicapped, needs George to help him navigate life at a very basic level. Being with George enables Lennie to avoid being institutionalized, jailed, or hurt in some cruel way. George, being a lonely migrant worker, constantly moving from place to place seeking work, depends on Lennie for companionship and hope. Because he has Lennie in his life, he can dream of the two of them pooling their money to buy a small farm and achieving a better life than they have.

Normally, friendships are not so intently based on need, so that complexity would be important to explore in an essay. People often enter into friendships because of personal affinity or shared interests, but they are not so needy that they can't walk away from each other if need be. In George and Lennie's case, this is not so. George, for example, is often impatient with Lennie and gets angry at him, and Lennie tries to hide things from George.

Given that Steinbeck was writing not primarily to explore their friendship but to make a wider critique of the society in which they lived, you might examine how the capitalist system, in Steinbeck's opinion, created their high level of need. Could it be that George and Lennie were forced into codependence by a system that valued people more for what they could produce at the lowest possible cost than as as human beings? That case can certainly be made.

Finally, it's important to question why George kills Lennie at the end. It appears to be a mercy killing that arises out of the love and compassion George feels for Lennie and desire to spare him further pain. Do you agree that it is an act of friendship? If not, why might George have done it?

Be sure to pull quotes from the book to back up your arguments.

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In "Of Mice And Men", what is the relationship between Lennie and George?

Lennie is simply George's close friend and is not related to him in any way. When George and Lennie meet the boss of the ranch for the first time, George lies to him by saying that Lennie is his cousin. George is aware that the boss would not understand his unique friendship with Lennie and finds it easier to tell him that Lennie is his cousin. Later on, George explains to Slim that he was childhood friends with Lennie and mentions that they both grew up in Auburn together. George also mentions that he made a promise to Lennie's Aunt Clara that he would take care of him when she passed away. After Aunt Clara died, George kept his promise and has been Lennie's friend and guardian ever since. Overall, George and Lennie are close family friends who grew up together in Auburn and have been traveling the country looking for work together ever since Aunt Clara passed away. George acts as Lennie's guardian and protector while Lennie acts as George's loyal companion.

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In Of Mice and Men, how is George loyal to Lennie?

George is extremely loyal to his mentally-handicapped friend, Lennie, and demonstrates his loyalty by helping him avoid the authorities and attempting to protect him from precarious situations on the farm. George fulfills his promise to Aunt Clara by acting as Lennie's guardian as they travel throughout the western United States looking for work. On their journey, Lennie gets into serious trouble in Weed and George demonstrates his loyalty by hiding in an irrigation ditch with him to avoid the authorities. George could have easily abandoned Lennie but remained loyal and helped his friend escape the dangerous situation. At the ranch in Soledad, George once again demonstrates his loyalty to Lennie by giving him valuable advice to keep his mouth shut and avoid Curley and his wife. George also defends Lennie's character and speaks highly of him to the boss and other workers. He also calms Lennie's spirits by telling him about their future homestead, where they will "live off the fatta the lan’." George also reveals his loyalty by saving his money to purchase the homestead instead of spending it on women in town. In George's final act of loyalty and devotion, he shoots Lennie in the back of the head before Curley and his lynch mob are able to torture him.

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In Of Mice and Men, how do George and Lennie depend on each other?

George and Lennie have a unique relationship and travel the country as migrant workers, looking for manual labor jobs during the Great Depression. Typically, migrant workers travel alone and must endure the difficulties of life by themselves. Fortunately, George and Lennie have each other, and their companionship is a significant aspect of their transient lifestyle. Even though Lennie benefits more from George being his guardian, role model, and caretaker, George relies on Lennie's comradery and friendship to keep him company, and his presence enables George to exercise much-needed socialization. On the ranch, characters like Crooks and Candy reveal the difficulties of constant loneliness, which contrasts greatly with George and Lennie's unique situation.

In addition to providing the social aspect of George's life, Lennie also helps George come closer to his dream of purchasing his own homestead. Alone, George would have no chance of saving up enough money to purchase an estate, but Lennie's income contributes to the dream. George had promised Lennie's aunt Clara that he would look after him when she passed away, and George follows through with his promise. George not only makes all the decisions for Lennie and speaks on his behalf, but he also tries his best to keep Lennie out of trouble and is a constant source of support. Overall, the two friends share a unique relationship and their camaraderie and friendship help them survive in a challenging, dangerous environment.

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What do Lennie and George gain from their friendship in Of Mice and Men?

Within the context of the novel, the relationship between our two protagonists is indeed unique. George states in chapter one that, as far as relationships go, he and Lennie share something special. Unlike other ranch hands who come to a ranch, work up a stake, spend their wages, and soon find themselves on another ranch, he and Lennie

"got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us."

Lennie is quite proud of what they have and supports George's sentiment by mentioning that

"I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why."

It is this aspect of their relationship that makes the two men different from others. They care for one another and share a dream, which is lacking in the other men. George further proclaims that

"Someday—we're gonna get the jack together and we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some pigs and—"

Lennie excitedly says that they will "live off the fatta the lan'," meaning that they will own property one day and enjoy its produce. They will not be reliant on anyone; they will have achieved independence. Their destiny will be in their hands. Lennie wishes to tend rabbits once they have reached their goal, and George agrees that Lennie will have as many rabbits as he wants.

The two men are proud of their close friendship. George, who is the more intelligent partner, makes all the crucial decisions and decides where they should work. Lennie is a mighty hunk of a man and can do the work of many men. The two have arguments now and again when George expresses his frustration about Lennie always getting them into trouble. This happens because of Lennie's intellectual limitations and his inability to understand and control his strength.

In spite of these disagreements, it is apparent that the two men care deeply about one another. George has made a promise to Lennie's aunt Clara that he will look after him, and he has done that with aplomb. At the end of the novel, he, for example, takes the ultimate step in securing Lennie's dignity and safety by shooting him before Curley and his men get to him. George realizes that they would torture Lennie before finally killing him. His desperate act indicates the depth of his love and care for Lennie.

It is ironic that the two men's dream is shattered by Lennie's unfortunate inability to control his strength, for it is his power that George uses as a selling tool whenever they arrive at a new ranch. Further irony lies in the fact that after Lennie's death, George finds himself in the same position as all the other ranch hands: his dream is in ruins, and he is without a confidante.

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In Of Mice and Men, how does Lennie and George's relationship affect their lifestyle?

George and Lennie have a unique friendship, which dramatically affects both of their lifestyles. George is portrayed as Lennie's caretaker and gives him valuable advice that allows Lennie to survive on the various farms they work on. George also calms Lennie down when he is upset by repeating their fantasy of one day owning their own homestead. Despite George's sympathy and compassion for Lennie, his lifestyle is greatly affected by Lennie's presence. George lacks independence and must constantly watch over his friend. Lennie also gets George into numerous altercations and puts his friend in danger by accidentally committing serious crimes. George is forced to flee for his life while working in Weed and attempts to distance himself after Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife.

Lennie's lifestyle is also affected by George's friendship. While Lennie gains a protector and a person to guide him through life, he is also subjected to George's derogatory remarks and disrespectful comments, which makes him sad. Despite both of their flaws, George and Lennie cherish their camaraderie and companionship as migrant workers attempting to survive the Depression together.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

George and Lennie differ in their physical appearance, mental abilities, personalities, and desires throughout the novella. George is described as being "small and quick," with a dark face, restless eyes, and strong features. In contrast, Lennie is a massive individual, who is described as having a shapeless face, pale eyes, and sloping shoulders. Unlike George, who is an active, intense man, Lennie is rather lethargic and moves slowly. In regards to their intelligence, George is an acute, discerning man, who makes decisions for the two of them. Lennie is portrayed as mentally handicapped and relies on George to take care of him. George and Lennie also have different personalities. George is rather aggressive and outspoken, while Lennie is relatively quiet and passive. Lennie is rather docile but lacks self-control and relies on George to keep him in line. George is also more authoritative and has a short temper. In regards to their desires, George wishes to live a comfortable life, where he is in control of his fate and does not have to travel from farm to farm looking for work. Lennie is much easier to please and simply wants something furry to pet, preferably a rabbit.

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Is George loyal to Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

In Of Mice and Men, George's loyalty to Lennie is one of his most obvious and important characteristics. To find an example of this, take a look at chapter 2. In this chapter, George and Lennie have recently arrived at the ranch and meet Curley, the boss's son, for the first time. Curley takes an instant dislike to Lennie and behaves very provocatively towards him. Although George fears Curley (because Curley is "handy" and George does not want to get into trouble with the boss), he defends Lennie from Curley's questioning:

George said, “S’pose he don’t want to talk?”

In addition, when asked by Curley why he's getting involved, George further demonstrates his loyalty: 

“We travel together,” said George coldly.

For George, then, being loyal to Lennie is more important than getting in trouble with Curley. This demonstrates the strength of George's commitment and friendship towards Lennie, and this remains a feature of George's character throughout the novel.

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What keeps Lennie and George together in Of Mice and Men despite their differences?

There are a number of things that keep the two men together. First, they seem to have a deep affection for one another. Even though they sometimes squabble, it is obvious that they care about each other. George, for example, apologizes to Lennie after having scolded him harshly in chapter one, as the following extract indicates:

George looked quickly and searchingly at him. "I been mean, ain't I?"

"No--look! I was jus' foolin', Lennie. 'Cause I want you to stay with me. Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em." He paused. "Tell you what I'll do, Lennie. First chance I get I'll give you a pup. Maybe you wouldn't kill it. That'd be better than mice. And you could pet it harder."

For his part, Lennie sees an advantage and knows he can manipulate George, threatening to leave him. The two men make up, however, and George, at Lennie's urging, starts talking about how different they are, as migrant workers, to other men in their situation.

The two men's dependence on each other also keeps them together. When they speak about what makes them unique, they often relate how they are there for each other. Unlike other men, they have each other to turn to, as George states when he refers to the loneliness other ranch hands experience:

"With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us."

In addition, as George has mentioned, they "got a future." He is referring to their plan to buy a ten-acre piece of land and run it on their own. They are working to put together a stake. Their dream is to gain independence and determine their own destiny. They would be able to freely exercise their choice about whom they want to associate with and how they wish to spend their time, unlike other workers who will always be dependent on someone else. Those men will never be as independent as they plan to be. Such men will always rely on someone else, such as a ranch owner, for an income, while George and Lennie will be self-sufficient. Both George and Lennie are enthralled by the enormity of their dream, for it is what makes them special and is a primary factor in what keeps them together.

Furthermore, although George consistently complains about Lennie limiting his freedom, he enjoys the companionship his friend provides. He has someone to talk to and with whom he can share his feelings and frustrations, someone he can confide in. This also makes them different from the others, who have no one to trust or confide in.

It is tragic that their dream in the end comes to nothing when Lennie, unfortunately and unintentionally, kills Curley's wife and has to flee. George follows him and kills his companion in an act of mercy. 

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In Of Mice and Men, how are Lennie and George described?

Similar to their personalities and mental capacities, George and Lennie's physical appearances also contrast. At the beginning of the novella, both George and Lennie are wearing denim trousers and coats with black hats. George is described as being a small person with sharp features. Steinbeck mentions the George has a dark face and restless eyes. Although he is skinny, George has strong hands. He also has a thin, bony nose and his arms are described as being slender. In contrast, Lennie is a massive individual with sloping shoulders. He is described as having a shapeless face with large, pale eyes. Lennie's body is much wider than George's, and he walks heavily, dragging his feet. Steinbeck also compares the way Lennie walks to the way a bear drags its paws. Despite being smaller and physically weaker, George protects and takes care of Lennie. 

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In "Of Mice And Men", what is the relationship between Lennie and George?

The two main characters in Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, are George Milton and Lennie Small. It's a common assumption by readers that George and Lennie are cousins, but they are, in fact, not related at all. 

Lennie grew up being cared for by his Aunt Clara. George also knew Clara, and, prior to her death, agreed to take care of Lennie after she was deceased. 

The confusion likely arises from the lie George tells their potential boss at the ranch in chapter 2: "He's my... cousin. I told his old lady I'd take care of him."

Later, though, in the same chapter, Steinbeck uses George to clarify that they are not related. Lennie says,

"You said I was your cousin, George."

And George replies,

"Well, that was a lie. An' I'm damn glad it was. If I was a relative of yours I'd shoot myself." 

It can be very tempting to believe that George and Lennie are related because of the care and love they show for one another throughout the novel. Though they would certainly be considered "family," they are not related. 

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In Of Mice and Men, discuss the relationship between Lennie and George as it relates to the way they speak.

Steinbeck uses the way that George and Lennie speak to one another to show a deep friendship between the two men.

Throughout the novella, the way in which George and Lennie speak to each other reflects a shared connection. They never speak with any stilted formality between them or anything that would constitute a sense of awkwardness. Their language reflects intimacy. This can be seen in the first conversation between them:

“Lennie!" he said sharply. "Lennie, for God’ sakes don’t drink so much.” Lennie continued to snort into the pool. The small man leaned over and shook him by the shoulder. "Lennie. You gonna be sick like you was last night.”

In both verbal and nonverbal modes of communication, there is a shared relationship between both men. George speaks with a sharp tone towards Lennie, something that could only happen if Lennie trusted George. Additionally, George physically touches Lennie. Given Lennie's imposing and intimidating size, it is highly unlikely that he would let anyone grab him unless they were a trusted friend. Lennie's response to George also reflects a caring friendship: “'You drink some, George. You take a good big drink.' He smiled happily." Lennie does not mind the embarrassment that might be associated with submerging his entire head in the water in front of George. He even encourages his friend to do so the same as he smiles "happily." He wants George to experience the same thing he experienced, something that indicates friendship. The conversational tone that exists between both men shows a relationship that has been cultivated over time.

While there is much that changes in George's and Lennie's world, the language they use towards one another shows that their friendship never dissipates. The repeated way in which George has to recite the story of how both men will live "off the fatta the land" is one such example. In Chapter 2, when Slim talks about his puppies and then leaves the room, George says to Lennie, "Yeah!... I heard him, Lennie. I’ll ask him.” This shows he knows the way Lennie's mind works and conversationally preempts it. This pattern continues until the end of the novella. The way in which both men speak to one another affirms their friendship, even in their darkest hour. Steinbeck is able to underscore a deep friendship through the conversational patterns both men share and the manner in which they speak to one another.

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What keeps George and Lennie together in Of Mice and Men?

George's sense of duty to Lennie, and to Lennie's Aunt Clara, is the biggest reason that the two men travel around together. George grew up with Lennie, so there's an emotional connection to home, as well as his brotherly bond, that keeps him watching out for Lennie. George tells Slim that he used to play jokes on Lennie when they were younger. As George matured, he realized that Lennie not only didn't understand when he was being bullied, but he also thanked George for helping him with the jokes. That made George think that maybe he should stop being a problem for Lennie and start being the solution.

Then, when Aunt Clara died, Lennie didn't have anyone else and George says, "Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while" (40). Add all of these reasons to the fact that Lennie could not take care of himself if he were alone and George is stuck; but at least he cares for Lennie, too. Finally, George admits to Slim that life can get lonely as a transient worker and having someone to talk to helps keep the loneliness to a minimum. George also admits the following:

"I ain't got no people. . . I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain't no good. They don't have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin' to fight all the time" (41).

Thus, George keeps a look out for Lennie because of his sense of duty, kindness, and to keep the loneliness of their life from making them mean.

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What keeps George and Lennie together in Of Mice and Men?

Several factors keep George and Lennie together, including the loneliness both feel as laborers who wander from job to job. Further, Lennie, being mentally handicapped, could not survive without George's protection, and George derives a sense of meaning and purpose from taking care of Lennie. They both understand the strength provided by that companionship. As Lennie puts it, they will succeed because

I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.

But the main glue binding them together is their shared dream of saving enough money to buy a small farm. The farm will allow them to settle in one spot and put down roots, offer them freedom and dignity, and allow them to be economically independent rather than working for wages. Steinbeck emphasizes the importance of the dream by having Lennie ask George to repeat it over and over. Against the harsh reality of their laboring lives, it provides an idealized counterpart. Both men derive comfort from imagining this better future. The details of the dream can change in the telling but the basics remain the same: 

 [Lennie]  laughed delightedly. “Go on now, George!” “You got it by heart. You can do it yourself.” “No, you. I forget some a’ the things. Tell about how it’s gonna be.” “O.K. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—” “An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it."

The shared dream sustains the two men with its hope of a better future. 

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What is the relationship between George and Lennie in the way that they speak to each other?

This is a complex question, because the interaction between George and Lennie varies greatly. If we look at each interaction in insolation, we might get a wrong picture. Therefore, it is important to see their relationship as a whole. If we do this, the clearest picture that emerges is one of friendship. 

The way George and Lennie speak to each other is the way friends speak to each other.  We see a tender moment in the beginning of the novella. George speaks of the loneliness in the world. But, then, he quickly says that loneliness does not characterize them, because they have each other. 

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no fambly. They don’t belong no place.

Quickly, thereafter, George says:

“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.”

He laughed delightedly. “Go on now, George!”

There are times when George loses his cool with Lennie.  Here is an example:

“God, you’re a lot of trouble,” said George. “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl.”

These words might suggest that they are not friends, but within the context of the story, the friendship between George and Lennie is by far the most beautiful thing.  In conclusion, their speech is fraught with friendship. 

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Why do George and Lennie travel together in Of Mice and Men?

In John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men, the two protagonists George and Lennie travel together through Depression-era America, seeking work and the attainment of their American Dream. 

What is particularly interesting is the fact that George and Lennie are not brothers nor are they lovers. The reason this is a surprising fact is that their relationship is not an easy one. Lennie is intellectually disabled (ID), and as a result, consistently struggles to maintain normalcy in his environment. George is responsible for Lennie, but this is a difficult task. However, the fraternity between the friends is demonstrated throughout the novella as George remains loyal to his best friend, ensures his safety, and supports the dream they have together of owning a rabbit farm.

The reasons for which George originally decides to care for Lennie are never made explicitly clear, but they are alluded to. There was apparently an Aunt Clara to whom George promised to care for Lennie. 

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Why do George and Lennie travel together in Of Mice and Men?

Occasionally, George tells Lennie that he would be better off alone and that Lennie is holding him back. "I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn't have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl." However, George stays with Lennie because he feels obligated to look after him, because he knows that Lennie needs him, and because the life of an itinerant rancher is a lonely one. It's better to have someone than to be alone. 

When their new boss questions them, George lies and says Lennie was kicked by a horse. He does this to stop the interrogation. But George seems to trust Slim almost immediately. When Slim asks if they travel together, George replies that he and Lennie "kinda look after each other." 

In Chapter 3, Slim notes that it is odd that George and Lennie travel together. He says this because most workers live alone, traveling from job to job. Slim says, "You know how the hands are, they just come in and get their bunk and work a month, and then they quit and go out alone." This shows what a lonely life a traveling ranch hand can be. This is one of the reasons George and Lennie stay together: to avoid being alone. 

George opens up to Slim here and tells him how he came to look after Lennie. 

I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while. 

It is likely that George feels obligated to watch Lennie, perhaps from some promise he may have made to Aunt Clara. But he also grows accustomed to having Lennie around and George realizes that Lennie would be lost without him. 

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In Of Mice and Men, how does Lennie and George's relationship affect their lifestyle?

One way in which Lennie's and George's relationship affects their lifestyle is that they live for one another.  It is clear that both men recognize that their relationship is the basis of how they live their lives.  For example, when Lennie gets into trouble in Weed, both men must go into hiding.  When Lennie is hunted down by Curley's lynch mob, both men have to act accordingly. In these instances, it is clear that their relationship affects their lifestyle.  They cannot live comfortably when the other one is in danger.  

Another way their relationship affects their lifestyle is in their continual reliance on one another.  This aspect of their relationship becomes an embedded part of their lives.  It can be seen in their refrain to one another that "Guys like us" are different than others because they are present for each other.  It can also be evident in how they are able to tell others that both of them "go around with one another." This is something received with surprise by people like Slim and Curley.  Their relationship affects their lifestyle because the image they project to other people is fundamentally different than what others have seen.  In a world where independent despondency permeates all aspects of being, the relationship that Lennie and George share and the lifestyle that goes with it is fundamentally different than what others see and understand.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

John Steinbeck wanted to write about the plight of California farm workers. He also had an opportunity to write a play on the subject to be produced in New York. Book and play both came out in 1937 and made Steinbeck famous.

Steinbeck called Of Mice and Men “a playable novel,” that is, a novel that read like a stage play and could be converted very easily because it emphasized dialogue and action while minimizing authorial input, such as exposition, commentary, transition, and summation. Steinbeck ran into many plotting problems--but problems are often opportunities in disguise. Because the story was to read like a play, and converted into a play, Steinbeck needed, not one, but two main characters who would convey their bitterness, problems, worries and dreams in conversation.

So Steinbeck needed two bindlestiffs motivated by the dream of escaping from wage slavery. He knew this could sound a bit kinky. Normally it is a man and a woman who want to own a farm and raise a family. Family farms were still the paradigm all across America. But Steinbeck could not have a female bindlestiff who hopped freight trains, slept in bunkhouses, and did back-breaking field labor from sunup to sundown. It would not be impossible to have a man and woman bumming around together looking for work, but it would not be representative of the reality Steinbeck knew.

Both Steinbeck and his character George Milton sound apologetic and defensive about the relationship between George and Lennie. In Chapter Three the subject is brought out into the open.

Slim moved back slightly so the light was not on his face. “Funny how you an’ him string along together.”

“What’s funny about it?” George demanded defensively.

George answers “defensively” because he has been questioned and kidded about this before. He explains how he promised Aunt Clara to look after Lennie and how the two got used to traveling around together. But this explanation is intended for the reader. It is typical of the way Steinbeck handles exposition in his “playable novel,” because this is how exposition will have to be handled in the play.

Earlier the boss also shows suspicion of the relationship between George and Lennie.

The boss deliberately put the little book in his pocket. He hooked his thumbs in his belt and squinted one eye nearly closed. “Say—what you sellin’?”

“Huh?”

“I said what stake you got in this guy? You takin’ his pay away from him?”

“No, ‘course I ain’t. Why ya think I’m sellin’ him out?”

“Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is.”

Steinbeck realized that if two normal men started living together on their own farm, many people would think they were gay. So he considered making one leading character handicapped and in need of care. But if one was physically handicapped, that would detract from a realistic picture of itinerant farm laborers. It was okay for two buddies to bum around together looking for work, but it was not okay—at least in the 1930’s--for them to set up housekeeping on their own little spread. It occurred to Steinbeck that one of them could be mentally handicapped—and this inspiration led to the creation of Lennie Small, who turned out to be the most interesting character in the book, the play, and the two film adaptations.

If one man was mentally handicapped, the other would have to explain everything to him and in some cases explain several times. Thus all kinds of information could be conveyed through dialogue. Steinbeck was one of the best dialogue writers of his time, often compared with Hemingway. Steinbeck’s dialogue writing can be appreciated in Of Mice and Men but even more in his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath. Most of what we know about George and Lennie we learn from what they say to each other. Lennie had to be mentally handicapped to explain why two men dream of having a farm together, and he had to be exceptionally big and strong to explain how he could be a farm worker at all.

Steinbeck saw that two characters who were friends but quite different would give his story a uniqueness without detracting from its realism. George would be a little talkative guy with a sharp mind, while Lennie would be a big inarticulate guy with exceptional physical strength to compensate for his weak brain. George would tell Lennie what to do, and Lennie would provide protection in the tough world of hungry, homeless men riding the rails and sleeping in hobo jungles.

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How is the complexity of Lennie and George's friendship portrayed in Of Mice and Men?

You could begin this essay by considering the notion of friendship in general. What does friendship actually mean, what does it involve? We might say that friendship involves mutual respect, affection, shared circumstances, values and interests - any or all of these things, but a true and enduring friendship is likely to involve most, if not all of them.You could then go on to discuss the particular case of George and Lennie. To begin with, we can note that, on the face of it, they are a very unlikely pairing. As Slim says to George: 'Funny how you and him travel round together.' It is 'funny' not just because it's unusual for migrant workers to travel together, but because George and Lennie are polar opposites. George is smart and quick, Lennie is mentally slow and physically clumsy; George is cynical, Lennie has a childlike good-humour and affection.Yet they stick together.

You should consider the reasons given in the novel for this friendship, when George confides in Slim that he promised Lennie's Aunt Clara that he would always look after him. You could then discuss whether this friendship has arisen solely out of need: George's need for companionship, and Lennie's need for a mentor. Outside of the dream of sharing a farm together, they don't appear to have anything in common at all. Do they really have enough to make for a truly lasting and unbreakable bond? Think about George's shooting Lennie at the end, and his reaction to this. These are the kind of factors you could consider when writing this essay. 

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

Though Lennie and George are close friends and travelling companions, they are completely different in nearly all respects. The first portrayal that we are given of them stresses this contrast. George is 'small', 'quick', 'restless', and 'sharp' while Lennie is explicitly presented as his 'opposite'.  Lennie is 'huge' (although, in a comic touch, his surname is 'Small'). While George is said to have a 'defined' figure Lennie is referred to as being 'shapeless' in form. He moves slowly and ponderously:

He walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. (chapter 1)

Lennie is thus compared to a bear; and this use of animal imagery to describe him is significant. Lennie is animal-like due to his lack of intellect, although he has a warm, affectionate nature, like a child. However, as he is unable to control his huge strength, he is also dangerous; like a bear, or some other such huge animal, he is capable of inflicting physical harm on others, as demonstrated throughout the book. His tragedy, though, is that he never means to hurt anybody, unlike other, supposedly more intelligent human beings - the belligerent Curley, for instance.

The opening external descriptions of these two men, George and Lennie, are therefore very revealing. George's swiftness of movement, his alert attitude, indicate his sharp, quick-thinking nature, while Lennie's slow, clumsy gait and gestures disclose his mental backwardness. 

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Discuss the power dynamic in George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men.

The element of power of George and Lennie is one of reparation and genuine friendship. Reparation stems from George's side of the relationship because when they were younger he "beat the hell out of him" (Steinbeck 40). Lennie contributes genuine friendship. Upon hearing even the slightest rumor of George being in danger, Lennie demands that "nobody is going to suppose hurt to George" (Steinbeck 72). So in the power of George and Lennie, George clings to Lennie in a way to escape his past wrongdoings, and Lennie stands by George as a genuine friend whose loyalty will never falter.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

In the first few paragraphs, the narrator describes the physical characteristics of George and Lennie. These physical traits are similar to their personalities. Therefore, Lennie and George are opposites in physical stature, demeanor, and in terms of their personalities. 

The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose. Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. 

As they begin to converse, it becomes quickly apparent that George is the leader of the duo and Lennie is the follower. In fact, their relationship is quite similar to a parent-child relationship with George, of course, being the parent. Lennie lets his mind wander, often to the dream of having a farm and the rabbits. George shares this dream but his mind is always conscious of his environment. When Lennie is daydreaming about the rabbits, George is thinking about the next job and how to keep Lennie in line. In times of crisis or confrontation, Lennie panics and George keeps his head. They are opposites in almost every way except for the fact that they are both good people who look out for each other. 

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

George and Lennie are fictitious characters created by John Steinbeck.

Steinbeck wanted to write a story dramatizing the hard lives of itinerant farm workers in California. At the same time he planned to convert the story into a stage play. The play was produced in New York the same year the book came out, in 1937. This proves that Steinbeck was writing his novella in such a way that it could easily be adapted to the stage.

He needed not one but two central characters who have a dream about owning their own farm. If he had only been writing a piece of fiction, he could have used a single character, as Knut Hamsun (aka Knut Pedersen) did in his great novel Growth of the Soil, and written in the third person. But in a stage play exposition has to be conveyed in dialogue. So Steinbeck needed two men who wanted to own their own farm together.

This relationship, however, sounds a little peculiar. Readers have asked about their relationship. Some have wondered if they were gay. Normally it is a man and a woman who share the dream of owning their own farm. But Steinbeck could not have a man and woman traveling around in boxcars and sleeping on the ground. And a woman could not get jobs as a farm laborer. Steinbeck needed two men, and he needed them both to be motivated by the dream of owning their own farm together.

He came up with the idea of making one of them mentally retarded. Thus was born Lennie Small. He was exceptionally big and strong to make up for his lack of intelligence. Steinbeck saw the advantage in having one of them mentally incompetent. It meant that George would always have to be explaining and re-explaining things to him, and in the process George would be explaining everything about their past, present and future to the reader and eventually to the theater audience. Note how, as early as Chapter One, George is telling Lennie all about what happened to them in Weed.

Steinbeck must have felt defensive about his plot. He knew people would question the idea of two men wanting to live together on their own little farm. He deals with this question three times in the early part of the novel.

In Chapter Two, the boss says:

“Say—what you sellin’? . . . . I said what stake you got in this guy? You takin’ his pay away from him?”

George explains that Lennie is his cousin and got kicked in the head by a horse as a kid.

In the next chapter Slim brings up the same question.

“Funny how you an’ him string along together….It jus’ seems kinda funny a cuckoo like him and a smart little guy like you travelin’ together.”

Here George explains:

“It ain’t so funny, him an’ me goin’ around together,” George said at last. “Him and me was both born in Auburn. I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin’. Got kinda used to each other after a little while.”

So Steinbeck created two central characters because he needed their interchange of dialogue for the play he intended to write immediately. They have a symbiotic relationship. George is a little guy, and having Lennie as a companion gives him protection in the vicious world of hobos; while Lennie needs George to find him jobs and tell him what to do. Steinbeck wrote his novella like a play, with most of the exposition handled in the form of dialogue, as can be readily observed in every chapter of the book.

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How did George and Lennie meet in Of Mice and Men?

In Of Mice and Men, the reader first meets George and Lennie in rural California.  "A few miles South of Soledad" and along the banks of the Salinas River is the exact location where the story opens. It is in this condition where we are able to meet George and Lennie for the first time.  The exact time in terms of year of the story is something towards which Steinbeck does not immediate reference.  Steinbeck publishes the work in 1937.  There is much to indicate that the work takes place in the Depression time period, even though there is no direct reference to the New Deal or the Great Depression.  The lack of money, the transience of George and Lennie, and the need to find work, save "their bit," and move on to the next place personalizes the historical context.  Steinbeck was mindful of the challenges in agriculture in the late 1930s that existed in California.  Lennie and George seem to be right out of this time period.  It is in this realm of financial challenge and a lack of economic empowerment that we first meet George and Lennie by a pool of water that will open and sadly end their narratives.

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What explanation does George give for him and Lennie traveling together in Of Mice and Men?

George tells the boss that Lennie is his cousin, and tells Curley that they travel together.

The boss is suspicious of the relationship between Geroge and Lennie, because George speaks for Lennie.  He wants to know if Lennie is incapable of talking or working, or if George is stealing his pay.  He doesn’t know why anyone would “take so much trouble for another guy.”  He wants to know why George protects Lennie.

George said, "He's my... cousin. I told his old lady I'd take care of him. He got kicked in the head by a horse when he was a kid. He's awright. Just ain't bright. But he can do anything you tell him." (ch 2)

The boss finally decides that you don’t have to have brains to work on a ranch, and lets it go.  The men are not so lucky with the boss’s son, Curley.  George knows immediately that he’s a troublemaker, and will try to pick a fight on a man Lennie’s size to prove he is tough.

Curley is annoyed when Lennie doesn’t respond to him, and says he needs to talk when spoken to.  George gets protective.

"We travel together," said George coldly.

"Oh, so it's that way."

George was tense, and motionless. "Yeah, it's that way." (Ch 2)

George knows that most men won't understand why he and Lennie travel together, or the symbiotic relationship they have.  George needs Lennie as much as Lennie needs George, because he needs companionship and someone to protect, just as much as Lennie neeeds someone to protect him.  In the dog eat dog world of the migrant, this is an unusual situation.

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In Of Mice and Men, how are Lennie and George described?

George and Lennie are described in the opening paragraphs of the first chapter. Both men are dressed in denim pants and coats. They both are wearing black hats and carrying blanket roles (like a rolled up sleeping bag). They are similar in dress but opposite in physical appearance. George's physical description matches his mental persona. He is small, quick, and defined. 

The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose. 

George's "restless eyes" reflect two aspects of his personality. One aspect is that George is always looking out for Lennie. George must constantly be aware of what is going on. The other thing is that George is physically and mentally restless. Being a wandering rancher, he is always on the move. But he keeps trying to save money in order to get out of this lifestyle. 

Lennie's physical description matches his personality as well. He is large but undefined, like an animal: 

. . . a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. 

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What is George's opinion of Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

The relationship between George and Lennie is complex and due to the finality of George's actions at the end, it raises many moral questions. No-one can dispute that George loves Lennie and feels responsible for him:  

I got you to look after me, and you’ve got me to look after you,

but he is not ultimately responsible for Lennie's actions. It is difficult for modern readers to rationalize because we can only speculate on the conditions in mental institutions of the day - although there are many horrific stories - or what may have happened to Lennie had he been left to Curly's mercy.

However, George is uneducated and his decision-making ability is also questionable so his decision , at best, is misguided. It is not for an individual to judge or make life-changing or life-ending decisions like that. George does not have the foresight and he certainly lacks the confidence to feel that either of them can escape their current circumstances. Due to the harsh environment and upbringing, and the fact that, in their world, people often do not hold a position any more cherished that animals, George does the only thing he thinks possible to "save" his friend.   

George actually needs Lennie as much as Lennie is dependent upon George. In such a brutal environment, caring for Lennie gives meaning to George's life - even if he is unaware of it.

Effectively he ends Lennie's life but also his own!

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In John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men, how is George and Lennie's relationship used to build a major theme in the novel?

The major theme in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, as it was in most of his early novels and stories, is compassion for the hard lives of the working poor. Many of his characters show courage and strength in spite of the hardships they have to endure. The relationship between George and Lennie is a good example of this theme of compassion for the working poor. George not only has to struggle for his own survival, but he is burdened with a dependent who is constantly causing him annoyances, frustrations, and serious troubles.

When the story opens these two bindle stiffs have been fleeing from a lynch mob in Weed, which is located hundreds of miles to the north, and they are on their way to another back-breaking job in the hot sun for starvation wages. George shows the strength of his character by not abandoning Lennie and breaking his promise to Lennie's Aunt Clara. He complains to his friend:

"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."

Yet when Lennie volunteers to go off on his own:

George said, "I want you to stay with me, Lennie. Jesus Christ, somebody'd shoot you for a coyote if you was by yourself. No, you stay with me. Your Aunt Clara wouldn't like you running off by yourself, even if she is dead."

The other men have their misfortunes and survival problems too. Candy and Crooks are the most pathetic examples. There is no one to give them any help or sympathy. If they can't work, there are plenty of others to take their places.

Steinbeck does not suggest a solution to the situation he dramatizes. His intention is to reveal it and leave it to others to propose solutions. The reader is left sharing Steinbeck's compassion for the humble human beings he writes about, and this was undoubtedly his purpose in creating Of Mice and Men.

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Is George loyal to Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

George is loyal to Lennie because he could leave him at any time, but instead he stays with him.  He protects him and looks out for him, even though Lennie can be difficult because he thinks and acts like a child.

"We kinda look after each other." He indicated Lennie with his thumb. "He ain't bright. Hell of a good worker, though. Hell of a nice fella, but he ain't bright. I've knew him for a long time." (ch 2)

George protects Lennie from the consequences of his behavior.  He tells him what to do, and Lennie usually listens.  George is loyal because he could have left Lennie to fend for himself at any time, but he does not.

When George and Lennie are alone, George helps Lennie think of a future by telling him stories of the ranch they will have some day with rabbits.  George gives Lennie hope.

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How does Lennie's and George's relationship in Of Mice and Men reflect 1930s America?

In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses Lennie's and George's relationship to convey ideas about America in the 1930s. George and Lennie were migrant agricultural workers on a California ranch. Lennie and George have to struggle to survive. They share a dream of owning their own farm someday. The dream of owning their own farm and farmhouse keeps them going in the hard times of the Great Depression. With the Great Depression of the 1930s, America was facing difficulties. Wages were low. Combines were replacing men. George and Lennie were fortunate when they found work. George and Lennie dream of "how they are someday going to get out of the lonely life of itinerant farm laborers and buy a piece of land where they can live by working their own small farm together."

Truly, life was lonely for the migrant agricultural workers. Fortunately, George and Lennie had each other to keep one another company. However, with their companionship, there were problems. Lennie was mentally challenged, and he kept George frustrated much of the time.

Lennie was a big man with the mentality of a child. Lennie in his child-like innocence never meant to harm anyone. Because of Lennie's tendency to get in trouble, George and Lennie were often on the run. They only dreamed of settling down one day and farming their own farm.

Of Mice and Men tells the story of two simple men who try to escape homelessness, economic poverty, and emotional and psychological corruption. Otherwise, the fate of those who do not abandon the lives they lead as itinerant workers is bleak and dehumanizing.

By the end of the story, Lennie has caused major problems. He accidentally kills Curley's wife. Because George would rather see Lennie dead than to hang at the hands of Curley, George shoots Lennie in the back of the head. Ironically, George is sharing his dream of having his own farm with Lennie as he is about to shoot Lennie. Lennie dies dreaming of a better life. In the 1930s, dreaming was all that a man had. Unfortunately, some dreams never came true. George gave up on his dream when he had to shoot his best friend Lennie. Life continued to be a lonely existence for George. 

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In Of Mice and Men, how is George loyal to Lennie?

George is loyal to Lennie in many different ways, even though it is he who, ultimately, is faced with the sad choice of ending Lennie's life for his (Lennie's) own good.

George is fully aware of how he and Lennie have some sort of cosmic connection based on their ongoing loneliness. Basically, they are all that each other has. Yet, a lot of value is placed upon this mutual dependence. This is what primarily motivates George to always be protective of Lennie. The following passage illustrates the extent to which George is true and loyal to Lennie, regardless of their differences, or of the fact that they are not related.

Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world...We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.

 Not only does George fulfill an old promise to watch out for Lennie;  he also ensures that Lennie does not allow his clumsiness and inherently-limited intellect to get him into trouble. It is clear that George not always succeeds at saving Lennie, after all, they are in Soledad precisely because of Lennie's troubles in their previous place. Yet, the burden that Lennie may represent is not bad enough for George to continue carrying it, becoming ever-more responsible for Lennie.

George also comforts and motivates Lennie in their everyday talks. Even when he treats Lennie in a way that, to the average person, may seem cruel, he still finds the time to speak of their dream of owning a farm together, of tending Lennie's much wanted rabbits, and to "life off the fat of the land".

When George shoots Lennie at the end of the novel, the reader understands that this choice would have still saved Lennie from a much more cruel and violent death at the hands of Curley and his lynch mob. George is loyal even then. In shock, he turns around and sees his dream dissipating with the death of Lennie. The fact that the reader is never told the fate of George might also be indicative of the fact that George and Lennie are meant to be a dyad; they were simply born to live- and perhaps even die, together.

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Discuss George and Lennie's friendship in Of Mice and Men.

George and Lennie are like family. They are companions. George had promised Lennie's aunt that he would take care of Lennie. George is true to his word. George claims that the two of them would be lonely without each other:

Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. 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. 

George and Lennie have a bond as they migrate from ranch to ranch. Lennie is often found in trouble; therefore, George has to take Lennie and run to another location. Truly, George gets frustrated with Lennie, but he continues to support Lennie, even when he gets in trouble. George needs Lennie as much as Lennie needs George.  

George and Lennie dream together. They dream of having their own farm one day. This dream keeps them going. Lennie asks George to repeat the dream of having their own farm. George does so. He repeats the dream of having a farm with a garden and rabbits for Lennie to tend to. Is is a beautiful dream. 

No doubt, shooting Lennie is the most difficult decision George has to make. Even in death, George is showing how much he cares about Lennie. George does not desire for Lennie to be hung at the hands of Curley. George prevents Lennie from suffering when he shoots him. Of course, George will be one of the loneliest guys in the world without Lennie. His will to dream is over:

When George is driven to shoot Lennie after Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, he destroys his own dream, too. Its fulfillment is doomed by insensitive materialists. Along with the destruction of his dream, George loses the chance to become a better man.

Lennie made George a better man. 

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What is Slim's relationship with George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

Slim is described as a “big tall skinner” and is an important person on the ranch. He seems to be fairly impressive to Curley’s wife, and there are even rumors of an affair.  The whole ranch looks up to him and respects him.

Slim does flirt with Curley’s wife, but not in a serious way.  He seems to be on to her games.  He is talented and well-respected.  Physically, he is tall and has long, black hair and an ageless face. He moves “with a majesty achieved only by royalty and master craftsmen” and “his authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love” (ch 2).  In addition, he is very intelligent.

His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought. His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer. (ch 2)

Slim is philosophical, and immediately takes an interest in George and Lennie.

Slim looked through George and beyond him. “Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused. “I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” (ch 3)

Slim is practical, intelligent, and dignified.  George and Lennie see him as an ally right away, especially in their combat with Curley.  George trusts him enough to confide in him and tell him some of their story.  He also assists them when Lennie does get into trouble with Curley, and later with his wife.

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What keeps George and Lennie together in Of Mice and Men?

George and Lennie’s relationship is a complex one. For Lennie, it is all he has known since being brought up by his Aunt Clara. He makes a veiled threat to George at the beginning of the novel that he can live alone-

“If you don’ want me I can go off in the hills an’ find a cave. I can go away any time.”

However both George and the reader know that Lennie would not survive. George feels responsible for Lennie, and in a way is making up for the mean things he did to him as a child – like making him jump in to a river when he couldn’t swim. However, Lennie also gives George great comfort as his love for his friend is unconditional. Lennie is an honest companion: he brings out the paternal side in George -

I wisht I could put you in a cage with about a million mice an’ let you have fun.”His anger left him suddenly.

 George would like to achieve their dream of the “little place” where they could live peaceably. He talks of the wild life of the other men, drinking and visiting brothels, but this is not what he really wants to do. He wants a calm life where he is secure and loved. Sadly this is too much to expect in the time and place which George and Lennie live-

 “With  us  it  ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit-in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not 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.”

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What do Lennie and George gain from their friendship in Of Mice and Men?

I think that Lennie's needs are directly met through his friendship with George.  Lennie comes to depend on George for protecting him and looking out for his well- being.  From Aunt Clara to George, Lennie has always been dependent on someone overseeing him and safeguarding his interests, providing companionship, and ensuring that he is not manipulated by others in the world who have little problem in doing such things.  In this, Lennie receives literal and immediate benefits from his friendship with George.  In exchange, Lennie gives absolute loyalty and probably the closest thing to unconditional love that is possible.  It is in this that George gains something from their friendship.  George says as much to Slim in Chapter 3, when he talks about how he used to play practical jokes and deride Lennie until he actually say how serious Lennie takes what George says.  This level of devotion and absolute loyalty in a world that is deprived of it is what George gains from their friendship.  George, the product of the world in which he lives, recognizes through Lennie the ability to remain distinct from it, the ability to represent what can be as opposed to what is.  George and Lennie speak of how they are reflective of "guys who look out for one another" and this is something of which others in the narrative take note as being distinctive and unique from what is seen.  George gains this sense of being revered and of being loved in an unconditional manner.  While George talks of being on his own and pursuing a life that is not so very tethered to the existence of another, it is evident that George gains much in way of emotional satisfaction from tending to Lennie and serving as his protective guardian.  It is for this reason that George decides to take Lennie's life, as he is confronted with the reality that the lynch mob of Curley and Carlson would torment Lennie and take his dignity away.  George's actions of being this protective figure are evident at the end, reflective in how he must be supported by Slim at novel's end.  In this, one sees how withered George is, representative of how much he has lost with Lennie's death.

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How is it that Lennie and George's relationship works even though they are so different?

The relationship between Lennie and George, in Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men, is not one which is completely understandable.

George is left with taking care of Lennie because of a promise he made to Lennie's aunt. George is capable, a solid thinker. Lennie,on the other hand, has a mental weakness. Lennie needs George to survive in a world filled with complications.

The reason that Lennie and George's relationship works can be based upon the old cliche "opposites attract." Lennie and George share only one thing--the male gender. Outside of that, the men are very different.

Although George may not admit it, he needs Lennie as much as Lennie needs him. Both men seem to encompass the best of both worlds: a sympathetic eye and a hard work ethic. The men need each other to become the whole necessary to find their dream. Neither Lennie nor George could survive without the other. When Lennie dies at the end,George is certainly a different man. With Lennie's death, a part of George dies as well.

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In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, what reason does George give the boss why he and Lennie travel together?

George (one of the two protagonists in John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men) gives Slim two very specific reasons as to why he and Lennie travel together.

"Sure," said George. "We kinda look after each other." He indicated Lennie with his thumb. "He ain't bright. Hell of a good worker, though. Hell of a nice fella, but he ain't bright. I've knew him for a long time."

Slim looked through George and beyond him. "Ain't many guys travel around together," he mused. "I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other."

"It's a lot nicer to go around with a guy you know," said George.

George, therefore, offers Slim an answer very similar to the one he offers the Curley about why he and Lennie travel together. Curley is accusing George of taking advantage of Lennie. George feels the need to offer a very limited answer though.

"We travel together," said George coldly.

"Oh, so it's that way."

George was tense, and motionless. "Yeah, it's that way."

The story George tells the boss about why they travel together is given because, he (like his son), are questioning the relationship.

"Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is."

George said, "He's my... cousin. I told his old lady I'd take care of him. He got kicked in the head by a horse when he was a kid. He's awright. Just ain't bright. But he can do anything you tell him."

The boss turned half away. "Well, God knows he don't need any brains to buck barley bags.

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How are George and Lennie, in Of Mice and Men, different in their relationships with other people?

George and Lennie, in Of Mice and Men, differ greatly in regards to the way that they interact with those around them.

The most poignant example would be the "relationship" between Curley's wife and both Lennie and George. George tells Lennie not to have anything to do with Curley's wife given she is a "tart". George tells Lennie, "Don't you even take a look at that bitch. I don't care what she says and what she does. You leave her be."

Even with this threat, Lennie does not "leave her be". Instead, he is enamoured with her because of the way that she feels- he loves soft things.

Another example where Lennie acts differently with others than George would is when Lennie enters into Crooks' bunk-room. Crooks tells Lennie that he has no right to be in there. George would have left- Lennie simply does not know any better. He seems to believe that all others are his friends.

Lennie is trusting of all people around him, even given the warnings from George. Unfortunatley, this leads to Lennie's downfall. George simply knows better than to be trusting of others and presents himself as a guarded man.

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How did George and Lennie meet in Of Mice and Men?

Of Mice and Men opens with George and Lennie drinking from a shore. Steinbeck opens the story with a physical description of the land which is the Central Valley of California:

'A few miles south of Soledad,' the Salinas river winds through an idyllic scene of yellow sands, golden foothills, and deer that come to the shore to drink at night. It is in this setting that we first meet Steinbeck's two protagonists, George Milton and Lennie Small.

Gearge is Lennie's keeper. Lennie is mentally challenged and when his aunt dies, George begins to take care of Lennie. George is "small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features."

Lennie is "his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders." They have just come from the town of Weed where Lennie had gotten into some sort of trouble. Weed is in Northern California. Because of Lennie's trouble, they are forced to flee south.

George and Lennie arrive a ranch to begin working. They are temporarily working, saving money before buying their own farm:

George repeats, at Lennie's request, the story of how they are someday going to get out of the lonely life of itinerant farm laborers and buy a piece of land where they can live by working their own small farm together.

Now, they are at a ranch in the Salinas Valley in California where they will be working to make their dream come true. This is happening during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

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What is the relationship between George and Slim in Of Mice and Men?

I think that Slim serves as a priest- like character for George.  The manner in which Steinbeck describes Slim is laudatory, something that allows the reader to see Slim the same way that George sees him.  Consider these excerpts from Chapter 2, when Slim first enters the narrative:

a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen...killing a fly on the wheeler’s butt with a bull whip without touching the mule... [According to Candy]  'Slim don’t need to wear no high-heeled boots on a grain team'... gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke....His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought...prince of the ranch... whose authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject.

If this is how the reader sees him, then, by definition, it is also how George sees him.  George recognizes that Slim could help out both he and Lennie.  In a setting where it has only been the two of them for so long, George sees a hopeful alliance in Slim.  It is here where the friendship forms between both men.  George, who has always done the thinking for both he and Lennie, finally recognizes someone who can provide much needed guidance in a setting where friends are few and adversarial threats are abundant.  In the third chapter, we see this need for guidance develop more when George openly "confesses" to Slim what happened in Weed and the exact nature of the relationship between both he and Lennie. Steinbeck uses the idea of a "confessional" in quite a deliberate manner in this chapter because it helps to better understand the relationship between Slim and George.  It only makes sense that when George needs some level of comfort at the end of the novel it comes from Slim reminding him that he "had to do it."  In the end, it is the friendship between George and Slim that provides a fleeting moment of relief or guidance in an emotional world where nothing seems certain.

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What keeps George and Lennie together in Of Mice and Men?

One of the most powerful elements in Steinbeck's novella centers on the idea that shared subjective experiences can provide solidarity between people. For example, part of what causes Crooks the most amount of pain is that he is isolated as a person of color, incapable of forging these shared experiences with anyone.  For Lennie and George, the shared experience of hope is what binds them.  This hope is what drives the belief that after a certain point, Lennie and George will be able to "get out" of the life of living as bindle stiffs, moving from ranch to ranch.  This is the hope that drives both of them.  George's hope is that he can own something and be his own boss, while Lennie's hope is to "take care of the rabbits."  It is this collective hope that binds them to one another.  From the opening chapter all the way through, this vision is what allows both of them to remain in belief of the other.  Even at the end, when George has to kill Lennie, this vision of hope becomes more poignant when iti becomes Lennie's last vision.

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Trace the development of the relationship between George and Slim from the beginning of Of Mice and Men to its end.

Steinbeck possesses a great deal of respect for Slim.  The manner in which Slim is described represents Steinbeck's affinity for Slim as a man of action.  This is something that we see in George's understanding of Slim.  From the opening of Chapter 3, George views Slim as a person in the position of authority and with a sense of reverence.  The fact that Steinbeck uses the term "confessional" helps to bring this out in their relationship.  George defers to Slim in a manner of respect and reverence, almost to the point where George understands that "the buck stops" with Slim.  He demonstrates an unusual trust in Slim, confiding to him why they left their last job in Weed.  When Slim discovers Curley's dead wife's body, George defers to him.  In the end, when George has to kill Lennie, Slim displays compassion in comforting George.  While George is despondent and beyond the reach of all others, he is receptive to Slim's taking him by the elbow and walking off with him.  It is as if the relationship between both of them is akin to a priest and a penitent.

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In Of Mice and Men, is the relationship between George and Lennie one of friendship, or obligation on George's part? What evidence from the first chapter can you find to support either conclusion?

While it is difficult to certain about George and Lennie's relationship in the first chapter of Of Mice and Men, the reader later realizes that theirs is, indeed, a true friendship.  However, if the response is to based solely upon the narrative of only the first chapter, indications are only that George feels some obligation to care for Lennie, and he gives this care somewhat begrudgingly.  Thus, the relationship seems similar to an older brother having to take care of a little brother:

'...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 whatta I got,...I got you!...You keep me in hot water all the time.'

But, after this tirade which sounds much like an older brother's complaints, George's anger leaves him suddenly; he looks at the fire "ashamedly."  And, when Lennie asks if George wants him to go away, George asks, "Where the hell could you go?"  Then, when Lennie's feelings are hurt, George tells him,

'I want you to stay with me, Lenie. Jesus Christ, somebody'd shoot you for a coyote if you was by yourself.  No you stay with me.  Your Aunt Clara wouldn't like you  running off by yourself, even if she is dead.'

Clearly, George is irritated with Lennie, but like an older brother he may not like Lennie, but he feels an obligation toward him since he has promised Lennie's aunt he would look out for her nephew, and since Lennie's child-like nature makes his fond of the man.  This child-like nature also gives George something:  the dream.  With Lennie, as an older brother can, George can still believe in the unbelievable.  And this dream of owning a ranch of their own is what motivates George to keep working.  Lennie gives George a reason to live.

So, when Lennie says he can go away if George wants him to, George tells him to be quiet.  George needs Lennie to talk to, to share their dream. Their relationship is both one of obligation and of a begrudging friendship, as George, with Lennie,  has something to hold onto to give his life meaning.

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In Of Mice and Men, is the relationship between George and Lennie one of friendship, or obligation on George's part? What evidence from the first chapter can you find to support either conclusion?

Chapter 1 seems to support the conclusion that George feels obligated to take care of Lennie because we have him acting as a father figure by:

  • organizing how they will eat
  • ordering Lennie to complete the chore of bringing wood
  • holding Lennie accountable to get rid of the dead mouse, and
  • demonstrating how much of a leech Lennie is: "If I didn't have you, I could get a girl..."

However, as you move through the book, you will find that George is a character with a hard exterior and a soft interior. He loves Lennie dearly. Based on your question, I am not sure if you want to know more than what is going on in chapter 1.

If you want to take the other side from chapter 1, I believe their banter back and forth about being "fambly" and "livin' of the fatta the lan'" demonstrates their commitment and friendship to each other. Look for the "Cause I got you!" and "I got you."

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What is George's opinion of Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

In Of Mice and Men, George is Lennie's friend, his co-worker, his guardian, his conscience, and his surrogate brother/father.  More, he is his loving mercy killer.  He eases Lennie's pain and suffering after their shared dream has gone awry.  In short, George loves Lennie on more than one level.

Unlike the other migrant workers who travel alone and view the world as a "me" versus society ("Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys..."), George and Lennie travel together, and George uses "we" to describe their relationship.

The Boss and Curley are distrustful of the traveling pair.  The Boss thinks George is stealing Lennie's money, but George says:

I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up.

And George says to Curley:

[George] "We travel together."

[Curley] "Oh, so it's that way."

George was tense and motionless.  "Yeah, it's that way."

Later, when describing the American dream, George defines it as shared and collective, including such lower-classes as the mentally-challenged (Lennie) and the physically-handicapped (Candy).  In this way, George is like ideal America: inclusive, pluralistic, and affirmative.

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What is the conflict between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

One irony about the conflicting relationship of George and Lenny is the fact that George knows that he would be better off without the burden of caring for the mentally diminished Lenny:

If I was alone, I could live so easy.  I could get a job an'work, an' no trouble...and when the end of the month comes, I could take my 50 bucks and go into town and get whatever I want.

However, he also understands Steinbeck's theme of the community of man that helps men measure the world. When asked why he travels with Lenny, George tells Slim,

I aint got no people.  I seen the guys that go around on ranches alone.  They ain't no good.  They don't have no fun.  After a long time they get mean...wantin' to fight.....'Course Lennie's...a nuisance most of the time, but you get used to going around with a guy an' you can't get rid of him. 

In addition, the childlike Lenny--albeit the cause of their troubles--is the reason that George can keep alive the dream of having a ranch and happiness, a dream that protects them from a pedatory world.  Once Lenny dies, George knows that the dream, too, is dead. Using an old cliche, George "can't live with him, but he can't live without him," either.

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What is the conflict between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

The characters of George Milton and Lennie Small are about as different as night and day. Steinbeck goes to great length to create very different personas for the two men, even making the two different physically. George is described as being small and quick, while Lennie Small is, ironically, a giant of a man. George is also quick-thinking and crafty; Lennie is mentally challenged.

Considering all this, conflict between the two characters is inevitable. George has promised Lennie's Aunt Clara that he will look out for Lennie, and he makes a sincere effort to do so. The combination of Lennie's enormous strength and his diminished intellect, however, leads to much trouble. George is continually rescuing Lennie from the consequences of his actions until at last, Lennie does something so egregious that George knows he cannot protect his friend any longer. When Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, the conflict reaches a climax which must be resolved. To spare Lennie from the mob, George kills his friend.

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What is the conflict between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

I would add as well that, in the story, the symbiotic relationship of George and Lennie also suffered the sad incidents caused by Lennie that directly led to them a) having to change what "their dream" was- having enough money to lead an independent life,  and b) giving it up when George ended up shooting Lennie to avoid the lynching that was coming to him for accidentally killing Curley's wife.

The conflict in this case is the many ways that George tried so hard to include Lennie in his dreams, basically b/c he had not much of a choice but to take care of him due to his condition as a dependent, and potentially retarded man. This, contrasts with the fact that because he is "stuck" with Lennie he has to suffer the consequences of Lennie's incapabilities, and this led ultimately to the end of it all. It was a no-win situation.

On this, George says:

"Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. 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" (p 11-12).

On losing the dream, George says:

"I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would" (p 103).

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What is the conflict between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

The conflict between George and Lennie arises because George has been taking care or Lennie and looking after him for most of their adult lives.  At this point in George's life he truely wishes that he could rid himself of Lennie and lead his own life, however George would never tell Lennie this nor would he purposely try to get rid of him.  It was a childhood prank that made Lennie the way that he is and because of this, George feels obligated to take care of Lennie as best as he can.  But, at this point, George is becoming overly frustrated at everything that happens and wishes that he could live his own life, without the worry and hassle of Lennie always being so needy and right by his side.  This is why there is a conflict between these two characters.

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How does the author in Of Mice and Men bring out the differences between Lennie and George?

There are several methods of characterization that authors use.

  1. through a physical description of the character
  2. through the character's action
  3. through the character's thoughts, feelings, and speeches
  4. through the comments and reactions of other characters.
  5. through direct statements giving the writer's opinion of the character.

The first 4 are indirect methods, while 5. is direct characterization.

Of course, the most obvious difference between Lennie and George is their physical size and strength. In the first pages of "Of Mice and Men," John Steinbeck masterfully describes Lennie who goes through the bushes "as silently as a creeping bear":

Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his big fingers so the water arose in little splashes; rings widened across the pool to the other side and came back again.  Lennie watched them go.  'Look, George.  Look what I done.'

Not only does the reader become aware that Lennie is crudely large ("paw"), but he/she also realizes that Lennie has a simpleness about him like an animal and a child.  For, he plays with the water and then asks George to look at what he has done much like a child addressing a parent.  The incorrect verb usage is indicative of childishness and/or lack of education/intelligence, as well.

Lennie's name is wryly ironic:  Lennie Small. For, he is a huge, strong man ("creeping bear"), yet he is mentally handicapped.  Dependent upon George after the death of his aunt, Lennie is doomed to be a migrant worker.  And, he has only survived because of the intelligence of George, who has helped him elude retaliation after he wanted to feel a girl's dress and she screamed in fear.

Although Steinbeck describes them as dressed alike, the men differ greatly in both physical mental qualities. George, is "small and quick, dark of face with restless eyes and sharp strong features," and Lennie is offish, "shapeless of face with large pale eyes, sloping shoulders...dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags its paws." Unlike Lennie, George is able to assess a situation.  He scolds Lennie for talking to Crooks, the alienated black hustler, telling Lennie to leave him alone.  He warns Lennie to not bother Slim or Curley or Curley's wife.  While playing cards one night, George asks Lennie is the girl was in the barn when Lennie went in to talk to Slim, "You sure that girl didn't come in like she come in here today?"  When Lennie replies "no," George remarks that a woman in a whore house is less trouble:

A guy can go in ...and get ever'thing outa his system all at once, an' no messes...Thee here jail baits is just set on the trigger of the hoosegow.

Lennie, on the other hand, is incapable of any such perception.  Like a child, he wants to have a puppy to pet and looks to George for direction.  When the hostile Curley confronts him, Lennie waits until George tells him it is all right to strike the man.

Yet,while George's acumen in assessing people and situations is in sharp contrast to Lennie's, they both understand how important it is to have a friend; they both know the vulnerability of the soul:

Guy like us, that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world.  They got no family...With us it ain't like that.  We got a future.  We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn.  We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go.

With all the differences among men, Steinbeck masterfully utilizes the marked contrasts between Lennie and George to communicate that there is a yearning in all that is universal.

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What keeps George and Lennie together in Of Mice and Men?

Their mutual dependence on one another is what keeps George and Lennie together. Lennie stays with George because he has no other option. His only family, his aunt, has passed away, and he has the mind of a very young child. He would not be able to survive on his own: it is because of George that he is able to find work, and it is George who ultimately cares for him. George stays with Lennie, I believe, out of a sense of duty and an overwhelming loneliness. George promised Lennie’s aunt tha