September 30, 2013
Of Mice and Men
In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the concept of friendship is not blatantly reviewed throughout the book. Rather, it is a concept explored in the minds of most of the characters -- a concept which cannot be described in words but through events that take place and the loneliness that the ranchers face on the farm. Steinbeck sends a message to the reader about the importance of friendship: with the help of others, one can accomplish many things. The men in the novel have a desire to understand one anothers’ best interests, to protect one another, and to know that their friend is out to protect them too. Throughout John Steinbeck’s short novel Of Mice and Men, we see many forms of friendship arise, the most prominent of which are the relationships between George and Lennie, Candy and his dog, and George and Candy.
The most significant example of friendship in the novella is the relationship of George and Lennie. George is seen as the “leader” of this duo and Lennie as the follower. When George laid down on the sand to rest, “Lennie imitated him, raising his head to see whether he were doing it right” (pg.7). Lennie’s imitations of George and the way he looks up to George as if he were an older brother shows that George is the one who makes the decisions and plans, telling Lennie what to do and what not to do. When George and Lennie went to the boss to get a job, George told Lennie “jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing”(pg.6), to which Lennie passively replies, “sure George. Sure I got it”(pg.6). This also illustrates how Lennie is not often given the chance to make his own decisions; rather, George voluntarily makes decisions for him. For example, “well, look. Lennie – if you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an’ hide in the brush”(pg.15). George watches over Lennie because when the two were much younger, he had promised Lennie’s aunt that he would take care of Lennie; throughout the years, they have developed a bond that cannot be described through words. Whenever Lennie does something he knows he is not supposed to, his immediate thought is George’s disapproval. For example when Curley’s wife comes into the barn to talk to Lennie, his immediate response is “George says I ain’t to have nothing to do with you – talk to you or nothing”(pg.86). In another instance, Lennie directly obeys the orders of George. During the fist fight between Lennie and Curley, Lennie hold back his strength because of George’s orders. But as soon as George tells Lennie to defend himself, Curley is beaten in a heartbeat. “‘I said get him.’ Curley’s fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie’s big hand”(pg.63). This bond is similar to the bond between siblings wherein the older looks out for the younger. George has taken to watching out for Lennie despite the fact that Lennie often manages to get both of them in trouble. Often, George is simply tolerating Lennie. George decides he cannot leave Lennie alone for without Lennie, he would have no one else in his life. Likewise, without George, Lennie would have no one to help guide him in life -- no companion.
Another relationship that emerges later in the novel is between Candy and his dog. Much like George and Lennie’s relationship, there is an obvious leader and follower. “Old Candy, the swamper, came in and went to his bunk, and behind him struggled his old dog”(pg.43). Candy and his dog had grown up together, becoming one anothers’ best friend in the process. “I had him so long. Had him since he was a pip. I herded sheep with him”(pg.44). Candy’s dog had been useful and intelligent but as the years passed, he steadily became slow and useless, becoming more of a nuisance towards everyone. “He stopped and sniffed the air, and still sniffing, looked down at