LENNIE’S CHILDLIKE AND GEORGES BROTHER FIGURE ROLE The relationship of George and Lennie is that of brotherhood. While George essays to protect Lennie as an older brother would, he does, in fact, fail at times as would a sibling who assumes such a role. While Lennie does fear George somewhat, his fear resembles that of a younger sibling for an older one, rather than a parent. For,his perception is clearly that they are friends, and, thus, equals.
When he asks George to tell him “how it is with us,” and George describes how they have “somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us,” Lennie breaks in describing their reciprocal relationship, “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. ” Each man provides something for the other that he lacks. With George, Lennie provides love and trust and, above all, the sustaining of the dream.
For, once Lennie who truly believes in the dream is gone, so, too, does the dream die, since Lennie is the keeper of ithe dream. For Lennie, George is the thinker and the planner. George is clearly a good friend to Lennie because he protects him from the dangers in life. This is shown in the quote George said “suppose he don’t wanna talk” and “we travel together”. This shows the reader two thing: George is clearly a good friend to Lennie because he protects him from the dangers in life.
This is shown in the quote George said “suppose he don’t wanna talk” and “we travel together”. This shows the reader two things: After drinking from the pool, when they are sat on the hill Lennie imitates George’s actions “he pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes the way George’s hat was. ” Our immediate interpretation is that Lennie looks up to George as a role model, the quote “way George’s hat was” suggests he acts just like him and mimics him how a son would to a father. “Lennie looked timidly over to him. George? ” “Yeah, what ya want? ” “Where we goin’ George? ”… “So you forgot that already did you? ”” this implies that without George, Lennie would be hopeless and would get no where because he would always be lost. When Lennie says “where we goin’” he sounds slightly worried, this will be because he knows that George will get angry at him because he is constantly having to remind him on the objective. The word “already” suggests that Lennie is always forgetting things and George is getting more and more fed up.
The word “timidly” implies that George often gets angry with Lennie and now Lennie has learnt to approach him differently when he is angry so he wont get as upset. This implies their friendship is strong as they know how to approach each other. Chapter 2 shows a developing relationship between George and Lennie, regardless of their differences in mentality. Immediately from the beginning it becomes evident that George is the dominant member of their relationship, and Lennie is his inferior. “Behind him came George, and behind George, Lennie. ”
Steinbeck uses this sentence to highlight how obedient Lennie was to George, and how he walked behind him, not only as an inferior, but almost like a pet; which shows that Lennie is dependant on George to know what to do. The word “behind” is used twice to show the status of the characters, George was behind someone already but instead of Lennie standing beside him he was behind him, showing that Lennie was already of a lower status once they had arrived. This may also show that George seems to be protecting George which suggests Lennie is quite weak mentally. Lennie looked helplessly at George for instruction. ” The word “helplessly” shows that Lennie depends on George for support and implies that they have a strong relationship because Lennie not only trusts George to help him, but depends on him to get him out of tight situations. This links into the context as George has to instruct and speak for Lennie, as at the time there would have been a prejudice for mentally retarded people, which is probably why the two travel around together, as two of the same intelligence would not be travelling together.
Because of this, George has to be a Brother, a caretaker typed role, for Lennie, and has to continually remind him things otherwise he would forget. “Just don’t have nothing to do with him, will you remember? ” This line shows how George is to instruct Lennie to do something, but also to make sure he remembers, it shows that Lennie is so child-like that George needs to remember for him, as he already knows that he will forget. LENNIE’S POSTURE – INTERPRETATED THROUGH THE USAGE OF ANIMAL IMAGERY Steinbeck often uses animal imagery throughout the novel to illustrate his characters and the friendship between them:
During the course of the novel, the characters speak sloppily, for instance, “Jes’ a little stretch” this suggests they have more important things to worry about than to speak properly, things such as surviving. This shows us that the way of life then is different; nowadays the majority of people speak proper English as they are properly educated. The author intends for us to see how difficult life was during the great depression (1930s) and too show us what they went through and the feelings and experiences they faced When evaluating the relationship of George and Lennie, keep in mind the influential external factors.
The setting takes place during the time of the Great Depression and the Dust bowl. Lennie and George are both migrant workers and depend on farm work for money at a time when America’s economy was the weakest and its farms were struggling to keep animals and crops alive. In addition, the Unites States is filled with intense prejudice towards races, sexes, and outcasts. There are a number of relationship pairs to evaluate throughout the story so keep the setting complications in mind. Through figurative language and characterization used in chapter one, Steinbeck reveals the characteristics of both George and Lennie.
Lennie has a mental disability and is a regular burden on George; he has lost jobs because of his inability to control his strength and is regularly badgering George with questions. Because of his strength, however, Lennie is able to impress farm owners who desire capable physical laborers. On the other hand, George has the wit and instinct to navigate from farm to farm and find new areas to work. While George sacrifices job stability and independence, he gains companionship at a time when the rest of world is indifferent to him.
Likewise, Lennie sacrifices some personal dignity (George regularly casts crude, demeaning remarks on Lennie) and gains a protector, provider, and friend. John Steinbeck chose to write about these to characters and their lifestyle to represent the dynamics of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice and most importantly human nature. Their friendship alone opens a variety of topics such as freedom and how George is held back by Lennies actions, the loyalty they have for one another and the loyalty George had shown to Lennies Aunt Clara. The sacrifice George made for Lennie certainly shows how much devotion George has for Lennie.
George executed Lennie purely so Lennie did not have to suffer more fatal consequences and the actions for murder were very vigorous in the time this book was set so George was risking his own life to give Lennie a brighter passing. Sacrifice was also a main part in Candy’s life as he was told to put down his dog to spare its miserable life. But Candy took the wrong selfish approach and truly didn’t want his dog to end its suffering, this may be understandable as Candy did not have anybody else left in his life that he cared and cherished.
Both of these acts were done out of love. John Steinbeck’s main approach in this book was to show people how a simple friendship can change someone’s life forever. Of Mice and Men is the fictional account of an episode in the lives of itinerant ranch men who have nothing but their dreams. George and Lennie’s dream world is real, detailed, modest in its aspirations and just out of reach. Their actual lives are hard, characterised by strenuous labour and by a mix of mistrust of and fellowship with their fellow workers.
In such an unstable and rootless life, friendships are hard to maintain – hence the surprise and suspicion with which George and Lennie’s relationship is met and George’s defensiveness in his explanation of it. The principal characters are George Milton and Lennie Small (whose name is the subject of a feeble joke: “He ain’t small”. Who says this? ). Lennie is enormously strong. He is simple (has a learning difficulty) though he is physically well co-ordinated and capable of doing repetitive manual jobs (bucking barley or driving a cultivator) with skill. Lennie has a man’s body, but a child’s outlook: he gains pleasure from pettin’ ” soft things, even dead mice, and loves puppies and rabbits. He is dependent, emotionally, on George, who organizes his life and reassures him about their future. Lennie can be easily controlled by firm but calm instructions, as Slim finds out. But panic in others makes Lennie panic: this happened when he tried to “pet” a girl’s dress, in Weed, and happens again twice in the narrative: first, when he is attacked by Curley, and second, when Lennie strokes the hair of Curley’s wife. Lennie’s deficiencies enable him to be accepted by other defective characters: Candy, Crooks and Curley’s wife.
He poses no threat, and seems to listen patiently (because he has learned the need to pay close attention, as he remembers so little of what he hears). As a child is comforted by a bedtime story, so George has come to comfort Lennie with a tale of a golden future. To the reader, especially today, this imagined future is very modest, yet to these men it is a dream almost impossible of fulfilment. As George has repeated the story, so he has used set words and phrases, and Lennie has learned these, too, so he is able to join in the telling at key moments (again, as young children do).
George is a conscientious minder for Lennie but is of course not with him at all times; and at one such time, Lennie makes the mistake which leads to his death. He strokes the hair of Curley’s wife (at her invitation) but does it too roughly; she panics and tries to cry out, and Lennie shakes her violently, breaking her neck. There is no proper asylum (safe place) for Lennie: Curley is vengeful, but even if he could be restrained, Lennie would face life in a degrading and cruel institution – a mental hospital, prison or home for the criminally insane.
George’s killing of Lennie, supported by Slim (who says “You hadda’ ”) is the most merciful course of action. In the novel’s final chapter we have an interesting insight into Lennie’s thought. Until now we have had to read his mind from his words and actions. Here, Steinbeck describes how first his Aunt Clara and second an imaginary talking rabbit, lecture Lennie on his stupidity and failure to respect George. From this we see how, in his confused fashion, Lennie does understand, and try to cope with, his mental weakness.
George is called a “smart little guy” by Slim, but corrects this view (as he also corrects the idea that Lennie is a “cuckoo”: that is, a lunatic – Lennie is quite sane; his weakness is a lack of intelligence). George’s modesty is not false – he is bright enough to know that he isn’t especially intelligent. If he were smart, he says, “I wouldn’t be buckin’ barley for my fifty and found” (=$US 50 per month, with free board and lodging). George is not stupid, but there is no real opportunity for self-advancement, as might be achieved in the west today by education.
He is, in a simple way, imaginative: his picture of the small-holding (small farm) he and Lennie will one day own, is clearly-drawn and vivid, while some of the phrases have a near-poetic quality in their simplicity, as when he begins: “Guys like us… are the loneliest guys in the world”. Lennie is a burden to George, who frequently shows irritation and, sometimes, outright anger to him. But it is clear that George is not going to leave him. What began vaguely as a duty, after the death of Lennie’s Aunt Clara, has become a way of life: there is companionship and trust in this relationship, which makes it almost unique among the ranch-hands.
George confesses to Slim how he once abused this trust by making Lennie perform degrading tricks; but after Lennie nearly drowned, having (although not able to swim) jumped, on George’s orders, into the Sacramento River, George has stopped taking advantage of Lennie’s simplicity. At the end of the novella George confronts a great moral dilemma, and acts decisively, killing Lennie as a last act of friendship. Steinbeck uses the dialogue of the two men to introduce one of the main themes of the novel, namely isolation and loneliness. ‘Guys like us are the loneliest guys in the world’, begins George.
Clearly, the two men understand why they need each other. After George’s speech about ‘other guys’, Lennie breaks in saying ‘now tell how it is with us’. This clearly indicates to the reader that Lennie is ‘delighted’ that he has a companion. The writer uses personal pronouns inviting the reader to feel the contrast, ‘but not us’. The relationship has mutual benefit and they both appreciate it. Although the relationship’s unequal it offers a very positive companionship for both characters. Also central to their relationship is their shared ‘dream’.
This however shows clearly the difference in each individual’s need. For Lennie, the dream provides ‘rabbits’. On the other hand, for George the dream offers, control, security and independence. In the novel Steinbeck often refers back to the shared dream the two men have. The shared dream shows the reader that the two men both have something to look for. When George tells Lennie about ‘the dream’ Lennie often cuts in indicating that he is familiar with the story and enjoys it, like a favourite bedtime story. From the shared dream George gets hope of a better life.
In summary the writer portrays that the two individuals are dependent on the dream and each other. As the chapter closes the author indicates to the reader that George is the leader and is the responsible one. While George is telling Lennie about the shared dream, George then becomes carried away. George’s mood suddenly changes and he then has to become the responsible one. George says ‘Nuts … I ain’t got time for no more’. The writer portrays to the reader how George becomes the responsible one by George foreshadowing past events and stopping the dream speech.
Steinbeck is implying that George only sees the dream as a bedtime story for Lennie, on the other hand Lennie sees it as a dream that will one day become true. George then tells Lennie to ‘hide in the brush’ if you get in any trouble, this is a sign that experience has taught George to plan ahead. It is also a sign that George has taken the role of a leader. In many ways Steinbeck created an unequal relationship with George always having to take responsibility, but the companionship Lennie offers him is very important, thus Steinbeck established the relationship firmly in chapter one, by only having these two men present.