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How does John Steinbeck use George as a symbol of good friendship in life? How many people would define friendship as taking the life of someone you love?

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Introduction

Of Mice and Men How does John Steinbeck use George as a symbol of good friendship in life? How many people would define friendship as taking the life of someone you love? Webster defines friendship as "a person whom one knows, likes and trusts. "Steinbeck shows us both through his characterization of George in Of Mice and Men. Throughout the novel George's role as Lennie's friend constantly changes. At times he is the teacher or protector. At other times he is the dependable companion who stays with Lennie through whatever trouble, or maybe because of the trouble, Lennie gets into. "Here in the simplest possible terms Steinbeck offers a voluntary acceptance of responsibilities. It reminds us again that man owes something to man"(Unger 57).George takes on the responsibility of watching over Lennie because of a promise he makes to Lennie's aunt as she is dying. George's life revolves around Lennie and his actions. He gives up his independence and any chance he might have had to live a normal life. Steinbeck describes Lennie's emotional mental and physical state being totally opposite of one another. " a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drapes his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely".(Steinbeck 2) Despite his size and animal-like strength he is totally helpless and dependent on George. George takes on the role of teacher in several parts of the novel. "Lennie!" he said sharply. "Lennie, for God sakes don't drink so much!"(Steinbeck 3). In this scene both are very thirsty from walking so far. Lennie falls to his knees and drinks out of the lake carelessly. If George didn't tell Lennie not to drink so much, Lennie would have kept on drinking until he threw up. At the time he also has to teach Lennie about not drinking stagnant water when he says, "You never oughta drink water when it ain't running."(Steinbeck, 5). ...read more.

Middle

The relationship between Candy and his dog parallels that which exists between George and Lennie. To the men who live in the bunkhouse, Candy's dog is nothing more than a "dragfooted sheep dog, gray of muzzle,...with pale, blind old eyes," (p. 24) but Candy sees him as a companion. To George, Lennie is more than a "big guy" (p. 25) who can't speak for himself. On the ranch Lennie is suspected to be of no value because of his lack of intelligence, and Candy's dog is thought to be of no importance because he has no teeth, can hardly see and can't eat. The dog is "no good to [Candy]" (p. 44) and he is "no good to himself" (p. 44). After Lennie kills Curley's wife, he's no good to George or himself. Carlson's luger, which is used to shoot Candy's dog in the back of the head, is also used by George to shoot Lennie in the back of the head. Slim had said earlier that he wished "somebody'd shoot [him] if [he] got old an' a cripple" (p. 45) and he also acknowledges that George has to shoot Lennie, telling him that he "hadda" (p.107). Both Candy's dog and Lennie are killed out of love. Candy feels that his dog no longer needs to suffer and George never wants Lennie to suffer for a crime he did not mean to commit. The parallels that exist between the outcasts and Lennie emphasize the harsh pain of loneliness. Crooks tries to shut out another outcast, telling Lennie that "[he] ain't wated in the bunkhouse and [Lennie] ain't wanted in [his] room" (p. 68). Curley's wife, an outcast herself, sees Crooks, Lennie, and Candy as "a nigger an' a dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep" (p. 78), but she is not even wanted there with them. All the outcasts have been left at the ranch while the other go into town. ...read more.

Conclusion

He needs someone, someone to talk with, a friend. After Lennie explains his dream to Crooks, he says he would work free. Later he decides that he does not want to face rejection. "I don't wanna go to no place like that. I'd never wanna go to a place like that" Crooks is also a proud man, sometimes causing him to forget his lack of authority of the ranch. Crooks grew up on a farm owned by his father where he was respected as an equal to the white men. Now on this ranch on California he is discriminated against and segregated. His pride is shown when he defends Lennie against Curley's wife, but when she lashed out at him, he knows he must back down or face the consequences. Those consequences would probably be being lynched. Inside he knows he is equal to every other man on the ranch, but if he expressed these thoughts he would probably be forced out of the farm, or even worse possibly. Crooks is a bright man. He knows his rights, but he also knows that being a black man in California his rights didn't mean anything if he made a mistake and crossed his boundaries. A third characteristic of Crooks is intelligence. Crooks, unlike the other men, reads books. He grew up as a free man, an equal to the whites. While he is not a slave on the ranch, he certainly was not treated fairly. His knowledge only adds to his anger and loneliness that he feels because he knows what it could be like, he knows that this is not right. By reading, Crooks occupies his time and gains knowledge, but being with another human being on the ranch would be much more important to him than any book he could ever read. When Lennie comes into his room, Crooks knows exactly what to say to make Lennie upset. However, he was kind and stopped saying that George would not return when he realized Lennie was genuinely upset. ...read more.

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