The Relationship Between George and Lennie in “Of Mice and Men”
We live in a world where we have to depend on others for our existence. We have to share our joys and sorrows with our fellow men. We cannot carry on the journey of life all alone. We need the company and support of other people to make this journey easier, happier and meaningful. Sometimes we have to join the company of those who are quite opposite to us. The relationship of George and Lennie is the true reflection of our state in this world. The two develop a relationship of interdependence as they share a same dream of having a farm of their own where they will keep rabbits. Lennie’s mental disorder is not an issue in this relationship as long as the goals are shared.
A Dissimilar Couple
First of all the writer depicts the picture of a “dissimilar couple”. Both the characters are not at par in physical and mental terms. Lennie is a retard who has a strong body while George is a clever fellow. In spite of this sharp contrast in their personalities both have become a couple which is carrying on the journey in unison. “They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open stayed behind each other (cited in Kollwitz 2000 p. 10). The physical dissimilarity is obvious from descriptions of the characters as George has been portrayed as a man who was “ small and quick, dark of face, restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined (cited in Kollwitz 2000 p. 10). On the other hand Lennies is “ huge man, shapeless of face with pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders’(cited in Kollwitz 2003 p. 10). George is a clever man who understands the ways of the world while Lennie is a “mentally handicapped” man . But the retard is not just a liability on his friend’s shoulder rather through his physical vigour he sometimes contributes to the tasks carried out by his friend George.
Fatherly Attitude of George
George had an upper hand in the relationship, he is the one uses his brains in all sorts of situations while Lennie always plays a second fiddle and lends him a listening ear. Spilka(1997) sees their relationship “parent-child relationship” where George in an elder brotherly or fatherly way takes care of the vulnerable child. Lennie always tries to imitate George and is expectant of a pat on the shoulder on his own apt imitation of Goerge. Steinback (1995) writes,” Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly. He pushed himself back, drew up his knees, embraced them, looked over to George to see whether he had it just right” ( 1.10).
George and Lennie’s friendship portrays picture of human being who while the pursuance of a shared dream try to stand by each other and set an awful example of sincere companionship. Their friendship is the only strength that makes them traverse further in the face of so many difficulties. The tragedy in the end occurs when George had to do away with Lennie out of sympathy in order to save him from a terrible end at the hands Curely.
Kollwitz, C.2000. The Relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men: a seminar paper. [e book]Munich :Grin Publishing. http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/13033/the-relationship-between-george-and-lennie-in-of-mice-and-men Available at :[Accessed 29 April 2012]
Steinback, J. 1995. Of Mice and Men.New York:Penguine
Spilka M. 1997. Eight lessons in love: a domestic violence reader. Columbia:Univ. of Missouri Press.