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George and Lennie Friendship: Critical Analysis Essay

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Every friendship has different problems the relationship is overcome and goes through. John Steinbeck’s book “Of Mice and Men” talks about two friends who are traveling in Soledad, California. Both worked together to make their dreams come true during the Great Depression. In the book “Of Mice and Men”, George and Lennie show multiple different themes within their friendship. George and Lennie face the good and bad of their friendship, power, and feelings of loneliness. The two men are both trying to survive through the time while working towards their goals and The American Dream.

One of the main themes going on throughout the novel is friendship. George and Lennie face many obstacles throughout their journey together. They also have a very interesting friendship, which leads them to many issues throughout the novel. In the novel, George says, “I want you to stay with me, Lennie. Jesus Christ, somebody shoot you for a coyote if you were by yourself” (Steinbeck, 13). George has many frustrations with Lennie, but this is all part of their relationship. Lennie’s actions are impulsive at times, and he sometimes does not know how to act. This gets on George’s nerves and happens many times throughout the novel. This is because George is a more serious individual. The men have a very close relationship with each other, but it is also extremely co-dependent. George and Lennie have multiple differences, but it is these differences that make their relationship close and complex.

The novel shows many other examples of George and Lennie’s friendship and their personalities. In the final chapter of the novel, Lennie had a hallucination of Aunt Clara. Aunt Clara said something to Lennie when he saw her, “All the time he coulda had such a good time if it wasn’t for you. He woulda taken his pay an’ raised hell in a whore house, and he coulda set in a poolroom and played snooker. But he got to take care of you” (Steinbeck, 101). What Aunt Clara is saying is that George is caring towards Lennie. George is always putting Lennie over himself, he is a very selfless person. George knows that Lennie can not take care of himself and needs someone there for him as a guide and friend. This quote from the hallucination of Aunt Clara is also showing that Lennie only thinks about himself within his friendship with George. George is always helping Lennie get out of trouble and teaches him how to avoid it. Even though George and Lennie face many difficulties and differences, they still have a strong and powerful friendship. Friendship is a huge theme in the novel and continues throughout the whole book.

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Power is also another theme shown within the novel. The scene in the book where George decides to shoot Lennie is one of the main parts that shows power. Power is also given to George and Lennie throughout the novel. George has a lot of power in his choices, actions, and the words he uses. Lennie is constantly asking George questions and seeking guidance from him. This is because George is his friend and is wise. Lennie knows that it will affect George when he does something wrong. Lennie said, “I might just as well go away. George ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits now” (Steinbeck, 101). Lennie is aware that his choices will upset George. George will threaten Lennie by not letting him do certain things in the future, and this scares Lennie. What Lennie said shows how powerful George’s actions and words are. It shows how much control he has over Lennie and his mentality. Although George has a lot of power mentally and is wise, Lennie has a lot of physical power and strength. Lennie’s physical strength has a lot of power over George, he has a larger build. Even though Lennie has no intentions of using his power of strength in a bad way, he still tends to do so. Lennie is sweet and does not mean to be mean, but he is not understanding his own power. He also does not realize that his actions do not only affect him. In the novel Steinbeck states, “...he shook her; and her body flopped like fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck” (Steinbeck, 91). In this scene, Lennie had used his power in a terrible way. This choice Lennie made is what made George shoot him at the end of the novel.

One of the other themes in the novel is loneliness. Lennie’s selfishness and choices he made led to George being lonely at the end, and throughout the novel. Even when George was with Lennie, he was lonely. George always knew that he could live a better life, but Lennie had always been holding him back. Their friendship and George's care for Lennie are what kept the two men together. George said, “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” (Steinbeck, 7). George was lonely with only Lennie in his life and no one else. Life got even lonelier for George when he shot Lennie. Lennie caused George many problems, but even with all the obstacles they faced, they were still friends. There was no way George could leave Lennie on his own. George realized that he was alone after he had just shot and killed his friend. Steinbeck states, “George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him, back up on the bank, and near the pile of old ashes” (Steinbeck, 106). It was at this point in the novel that George realized he was really alone. Lennie was the only person he had, and he had just shot him.

The American Dream in the eyes of Lennie and George is what kept their friendship together. They had the idea of purchasing their own land to work on. They wanted to get animals and grow their own crops and food for the animals. Instead of having to work for others all the time, they would be under their own control and power. George never really believed in the dream, but Lennie gave him hope for it to come true. Eventually, though, George realized that The American Dream was unattainable. This realization came to him after Lennie had killed Curley’s wife. George said, “---I think Iknowed from the very first. I think I knew we’d never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would” (Steinbeck, 94). George knew that after what Lennie had done to Curley’s wife, he would not be able to be around very much longer. This is what made George come to the conclusion that their dream was not achievable. Even though the dream was unattainable, it still gave the two men something to work hard for in their friendship.

In conclusion, in John Steinbecks “Of Mice and Men” George and Lennie’s friendship revealed several themes. The themes discussed were very important within their friendship and were the main points of the novel. Altogether, the men may not have accomplished the American Dream, but their friendship stayed strong throughout the entire story. Lennie is now in a better place, where his choices and impulsive strength will not get him into any more trouble. George made a choice, which was good for both him and Lennie in the end.

Work Cited

  1. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Penguin Books, 1994. Print.
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