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. In the first description of George, Steinbeck, describes George’s eyes as “restless”(pg19). From this it is already apparent that George is always thinking, always worrying and always thinking about what Lennie is going to do next. Unfortunately this is one of the disadvantages of having a friendship with Lennie; George always has to be that guardian to Lennie and that’s what makes this such a strange friendship. Despite all this, it gives George a role in life, a clear task, looking after Lennie.

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In parallel, Lennie is dependant, emotionally on George, who organizes his life and reassures him about their future. It would be impossible for Lennie to survive on his own; he doesn’t have any of the practical skills or independence of a normal adult. What is more, one of the main reasons why lennie is so dependent on George is because of his childlike mind. One of the aspects that Lennie shows which is childish is his stubbornness. When Lennie and George are walking to ranch, George finds out that lennie is carrying a dead mouse with him. When George asks ...

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