Essential Quotes

Essential Quotes by Character: Lennie Small

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1

Lennie hesitated, backed away, looked wildly at the brush line as though he contemplated running for his freedom. George said coldly, “You gonna give me that mouse or do I have to sock you?”

“Give you what, George?”

“You know God damn well what. I want that mouse.”

Lennie reluctantly reached into his pocket. His voice broke a little. “I don’t know why I can’t keep it. It ain’t nobody’s mouse. I didn’t steal it. I found it lyin’ right beside the road.”

George’s hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again. George snapped his fingers sharply, and at the sound Lennie laid the mouse in his hand.

George and Lennie have stopped for the night at a shady spot beside a river, traveling on their way to a job on a nearby ranch. Having been let off four miles from the ranch by a bus driver who did not want to take the trouble to take two migrant workers that far out of his way, George and Lennie find a place to rest. Lennie, fascinated by soft things, has found a dead mouse beside the road. He is hiding it in his pocket, knowing that George will make him throw it away. Lennie often had mice as pets as a child, given to him by his Aunt Clara, but he always killed them by petting them too hard. Now under George’s protection, Lennie follows him closely, with dog-like devotion. And it is in this way that George occasionally treats him.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 2

Lennie cried out suddenly—“I don’t like this place, George. This ain’t no good place. I wanna get outta here.”

“We gotta keep it till we get a stake. We can’t help it, Lennie. We’ll get out jus’ as soon as we can. I don’t like it no better than you do.” He went back to the table and set out a new solitaire hand. “No, I don’t like it,” he said. “For two bits I’d shove out of here. If we can get jus’ a few dollars I the poke we’ll shove off and go up the American River and pan gold. We can make maybe a couple of dollars a day there, and we might hit a pocket.”

Lennie leaned eagerly toward him. “Le’s go, George. Le’s get outta here. It’s mean here.”

George and Lennie, having arrived late to the ranch where they have secured a job, sit in the bunk house, meeting their new companions. Curly, the boss’s surly son, has already developed a dislike for Lennie, which is not ununsal since Curly dislikes and distrusts everyone. His wife, however, enjoys hanging around the bunkhouse, pretending to be in search of her husband. At Lennie’s first introduction to Curly’s wife, he is enthralled by her prettiness. George, however, recognizes trouble when he sees it, and he warns Lennie to stay away from her. Lennie had found himself in serious trouble on their last job when he tried to touch a girl’s dress, panicking and unable to let go when she screamed. Accused of rape, Lennie and George had to escape by hiding in a ditch. George is beginning to see signs that a similar situation might occur. Suddenly, Lennie sees the danger and wants to leave the ranch. “This ain’t no good place,” he...

(The entire section is 1417 words.)

Essential Quotes by Theme: Friendship

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1

George went on. “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 blown’ 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 give 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.” He 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. Tell about that, George.”

As they camp beside the river, George and Lennie plan their next move as they take on a new job, hoping to make some money. Their dream is to buy a small place that George knows off, owned by an elderly couple the wife of whom needs an operation. For a small price George and Lennie can become home owners, the goal of every true-blooded American, so the idea goes. Their plan is to have a small, self-sufficient farm, where they can be free and independent. More than anything, Lennie is looking forward to the rabbits, which George has promised him that he could take care of. It is scene that has been rehearsed so many times that Lennie can repeat George’s words by heart. But a dream always bears repeating. However, more than the dream, they have each other, Lennie and George forever. While other drifters and migrant workers may be solitary, these two have each other for support, protection, and guidance.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 4

Crooks said gently, “Maybe you can see now. You got George. You know he’s goin’ to come back. S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose you had to sit out here an’ read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody—to be near him.” He whined, “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. I tell ya,” he cried, “I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

It is a Saturday night, and most of the ranch hands are in town. Crooks, the sole black hand, is in his room, a mere shed attached to the barn. He is segregated from the white crew and resents it. He thus guards his imposed privacy, unappreciative when Lennie comes to pay a visit on his way back from seeing his puppy. Reluctantly, Crooks lets him in, more out of sheer loneliness that friendship. The discrimination has given him a cruel streak, and he teases Lennie with the idea that George may never come back. At first, Lennie is unfazed, knowing of George’s loyalty. But then, Crooks manages to get him to explore the possibility that at some time, something could happen to George, and Lennie would be alone. When Lennie becomes truly upset, Crooks apologizes, assuring him that George will indeed return. Crooks tries to make Lennie see the point: Lennie has George. Crooks, on the other hand, has no one, simply because he is black. He is excluded from all the activities of the white men, other than work. At...

(The entire section is 1646 words.)