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What do We Learn about George and Lennie in the First Chapter of “Of Mice and Men”?


If opposites really do attract then George and Lennie’s friendship is a good example to this ment. “Of Mice and Men” depicts how two people who could be different in so many ways with their physical attributes as well as their personalities and mental aptitude forge a solid bond which leads to a bearable existence. The first paragraph of John Steinbeck’s classic novel establishes how the dynamic between these two men creates an emotional investment in the reader who empathizes in their struggles and endears him to Lennie’s innocence and child-like wonderment. Each of the two main characters evident appearance does not rightfully describe how they truly are as a person.

George is small while Lennie is burly in terms of physical size. George is cunning and calculating while Lennie is obtuse and carefree. But from the early scene where the two stopped to drink water, you can already perceive that George is the one who looks after Lennie. Without hesitation, Lennie drinks from the pool of water and immediately George scoffs at him as he risks being sick again and warns that he should not drink if it’s not running water. George leads to their destination which Lennie blindly follows. Going along with whatever plan the former has in store for the both of them and abiding by the reminders he set out for him to observe. A large simpleton carrying a dead mouse while in their journey to work in a ranch.

The gentle giant is no more than a kid at heart with obvious mental development issues. Lennie looked up to George for guidance similar to a child following his parent’s orders and at times reluctantly doing so. Lennie imitated George in his actions like how he lies on the sand with his hands crossed under his head. The latter is repetitive in his sentiment of an easier life saying, “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). But nevertheless George does not abandon him and ensures that they always stick together. Easily giving in to his “whimpering cry” and “Blubberin like a baby” (ibid 9) by later on promising to give him his whim of owning a pet.

With everything they go through and regardless of their obvious differences, the two of them form a distinct kind of companionship that is not based on necessity or mutual co-existence but of love for each other with the recognition that someone will always be there for you and thus you will never be lonely. As George himself optimistically puts it, “We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us… If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us” to which Lennie accurately retorts “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” (Steinbeck 14). They have dreamingly built a future together. Their individual strengths equip them to face their life’s challenges. They formed a resilient friendship not in spite of their differences but specifically because of it.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin, 1993. Print.

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