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Lennie needs George. Does George need Lennie?

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Introduction

Ruth Davies 'Of Mice and Men'- John Steinbeck Lennie needs George. Does George need Lennie? 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck is a novel encompassing several themes. It is a tale of two itinerant labourers (George Milton and Lennie Small), their unlikely friendship, and consequences to and from this. Steinbeck introduces his characters together as companions, "they walked in single file". It becomes obvious as we proceed that one of these men is clearly in charge. The man whom is "small and quick, dark of face", (George) walks firstly along the face, the other "huge...shapeless of face" (Lennie) trails behind, imitating the leader's actions- "the first man stopped short in the clearing and the follower nearly ran over him". At only the outset, before the characters have even spoken, Steinbeck has revealed Lennie's slow wittedness, a key idea when considering Lennie. The reader is given a sense of reliance of Lennie upon George (ironically disregarding their size), and the image of a 'child following parent' is portrayed almost immediately, which continues throughout the novel. George is evidently dominant in the relationship; he takes control of the situation, making all decisions, shown in the abundance of imperatives in his dialogue- "Don't drink so much", as commanded to Lennie. ...read more.

Middle

The question as to why George fled also arises- If he played no role in the fiasco then why should he leave? The answer to this, as presented by Steinbeck is George's emotional attachment to Lennie, so much so that he leaves Weed with Lennie and ends up in Soledad. This is an example of the care, protection and sense of companionship that is felt by George in the relationship. The issue of the pair's friendship is an unusual one, questioned by various members of the ranch, e.g.- the boss- "I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another". Automatically it is assumed that George's intentions are sinister, showing the element of distrust evident in the society at the time the novel was set. Companionship is incomprehensible to these men on the ranch, "the loneliest guys in the world", whose lack of understanding and empathy results in distrust and resentment to one another. An exception to this is Slim, jerkline Skinner, the so-called "Prince of the ranch", whose conscientious curiosity toward the friendship is not one laden with bitter hostility and snide undertones- "Funny how you and him string along together". This calm invitation provokes George into revealing details of their past. ...read more.

Conclusion

A first person plural pronoun marks the demise of Lennie, the "We" used by Steinbeck to prove George's wish for Lennie's life to end reminded of the two's unity. With the destruction of Lennie comes the destruction of the dream. Though in reality George could still obtain the ranch, the meaning of the dream is lost- it was a shared dream, something adhered to for the pair to achieve. It is symbolic of companionship, and is at parallel to the theme of solitude in the novel. The dream, it would transpire, is no more for George at the ending of the novel. Regarding the substantial evidence in the novel, I can conclude that both Lennie and George need each other, but for different reasons. Each achieves different objectives from the friendship. Lennie receives a 'father figure'; someone to guide him and help him through the mental anguish that he suffers day-by-day. He needs George for basic, everyday essentials, and also to help him keep a grip on reality. Whilst on the other hand, George's reliance upon Lennie is not a physical one. George gains not only a sense of responsibility and boost of ego to his mediocre existence, but a companion. Lennie and George are characters within the theme of solitude that contradict it also. They are set apart from the others by their unlikely friendship, and for very different reasons and gains are dependent upon each other. ...read more.

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