Of Mice and Men

Topics: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Novella Pages: 6 (2443 words) Published: February 10, 2013
Describe the relationship between George and Lennie and how is it portrayed throughout the novella ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a ‘circular’ novella written by John Steinbeck which follows the lives of two travelling workers in 1930’s America. It is set during the ‘Great Depression’ and the author uses the everyday harsh conditions of that time as a basis for the novella. He focuses mainly on two characters, George Milton and Lennie Small who are opposites of each other, but still travel together. The initial descriptions of the two men help the reader understand the characters and aid in illustrating their relationship. Men travelling together at this time were an unusual sight to see, so there is obviously a strong bond between them. Steinbeck explores many different angles of George and Lennie’s relationship throughout the novella and he also uses the viewpoints of the other characters to change the way their relationship is seen. ‘The first man was small and quick, dark of face with restless eyes and sharp, strong features’. This describes the way that George is presented with ‘defined’ traits. Lennie however is ‘a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes...he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws’. Steinbeck uses animal imagery many times throughout the novella to illustrate how Lennie is so much like an animal, for example ‘Drank with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse’. Indeed throughout the novella, Steinbeck refers to Lennie’s hands as ‘paws’. This image of a bear suggests someone big and strong but also someone quite slow. As the novella progresses it is obvious to the reader that Lennie has some learning difficulties and that he would be lost without the support of George who is both looking after and out for him. ‘Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his fingers so the water arose in little splashes; rings widened across the pool to the other side and came back again. Lennie watched them go. “Look, George. Look what I done.” ’ He takes delights in the little things, as a youngster would, a large man with a child-like nature. It is therefore ironic that Steinbeck has given Lennie the surname of ‘Small’. The relationship has a parent/child facet. Lennie looks up to George and he sees him as a father figure, a guide for him to follow. He will obey George’s instructions completely, even if that puts him in dangerous situations. ‘Lennie, for God’ sakes, don’t drink so much...You gonna be sick like you was last night.’ This shows that George is looking out for Lennie, like a nagging parent who is protecting his child. George repeats the plans for work over and over again in order to drill it into Lennie’s mind, so that he doesn’t forget. He doesn’t want what happened in Weed, to happen again. Like a parent to a child, ‘Good boy. That’s swell. You say that over two, three times so you sure won’t forget it’ and later on ‘Good boy! That’s fine’ - A little like a master to his dog! Repetition is used to help Lennie remember, and when he gets it right, the positive words from George make him feel proud. ‘Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats... Both wore black, shapeless hats’. This is how we are first introduced to the characters and as the novella develops you realise that Lennie constantly observes George ‘he pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes, the way George’s hat was’ and mimics the way he sits, moves and even the way he inspects the bed in the bunk house. Lennie mimics George in the way a child copies its father. In his eyes George can do no wrong. Lennie is watching George and learning from him and perhaps even wishing he was like him. The pride which Lennie feels for George is mutual. He is proud about Lennie’s strength and talks to the boss about what he’s capable of, ‘he’s sure a hell of a good worker. Strong as a bull’ and to Slim ‘That big bastard there can put up more grain alone than most pairs can’. He...
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