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How does Steinbeck represent the characters of George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

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Rebecca Iversen How does Steinbeck represent the character George and Lennie in ?Of Mine and Men?? The novel ?Of Mice and Men? is a tale of a remarkable friendship between two itinerant workers in the grim depression of the 1930s America. George and Lennie the two main characters with the extraordinary friendship are represented by Steinbeck in many different ways. This essay will delve in to the two characters and how Steinbeck represents them. Throughout the novel Steinbeck shows how Lennie is a burden to George, who frequently shows irritation and, sometimes, outright anger to him. When George confides in slim saying that he ?promised the old lady?, Aunt Clara, that he?d look after Lennie(pg65). What began vaguely as a duty, after the death of Lennie's Aunt Clara, has become a way of life: there is companionship and trust in this relationship, which makes it almost unique among the ranch-hands. George confesses to Slim how he once abused this trust by making Lennie perform degrading tricks; but after Lennie nearly drowned, having (although not able to swim) jumped, on George's orders, into the Sacramento River, George has stopped taking advantage of Lennie's simplicity. At the end of the novel George confronts a great moral dilemma, and acts decisively, killing Lennie as a last act of friendship. However, responsibility that George has to have over lennie can be quite stressful and even though he needs Lennie?s friendship, he is always on edge and worried about what Lennie is going to do next. ...read more.


It is also apparent that Lennie isn?t just seen as childish by George but it comes across to other people. Slim describes lennie as being ?jes a kid?. His innocence side can be seen by some even though he is a big grown man. Another quality that Steinbeck represents through Lennie, is Lennie?s animal instincts. Many times is lennie compared to an animal "...and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws." Throughout the novel there are many such comparisons but it is the references to animals that occur most frequently. Steinbeck uses similes as device to compare lennie to animals in quite a few instances. After walking into the clearing, Lennie's first action is very animal-like. He falls to his knees and slurps water from the river, just as a horse might, or a dog drinking water from a bowl. George comments:"You'd drink out of a gutter if you was thirsty." (pg. 3). Here we have the image of a man who is not intelligent enough to check if the water is fresh, but who also drinks in a very animal-like fashion. Lennie's mental retardation comes across clearly, as he is presented as almost less than human. The fact that ripples in the water amuse Lennie and are seen by him as an achievement helps convey his immaturity to the reader. ...read more.


Even though what George does is quite violent and maybe harsh it?s only because really, he?s scared. What happened at weed left Lennie nearly being killed and he doesn?t want them to be in the same situation again. So he goes by addressing the matter in an aggressive and violent way that might scare Lennie into not going near Curley?s wife. Despite George and Lennie being quite different and representing different things in the novel; they do have one thing in common and that is their dream. The dream is the only thing that keeps them going. On the whole, Steinbeck represents George and Lennie in quite different ways. George Milton has an astute mind, with sharp eyes and a quick tongue. In the novel, he is described as 'small', 'strong' and 'slender'. He is intelligent and quick to react. Lennie Small a childish, small thinking simpleton but described as ?a huge man? with ?sloping shoulders? who ?drags his paws? like a bear. Has an obsession with animals but has violent side which he physically can?t control. George is short-tempered but a loving and devoted friend, whose frequent protests against life with Lennie never weaken his commitment to protecting his friend. Steinbeck shows George as maybe terse and impatient at times, but he never strays from his primary purpose of protecting Lennie. Lennie on the other hand is a character whom Steinbeck sets up for disaster, a character whose innocence only seems to ensure his inevitable destruction. ...read more.

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