The Complications that Arise from Friendships of Utility
Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, conveys the tale of an unlikely friendship between two very different individuals in a time where companionship is scarce and times are difficult for everyone. George, an intelligent and quick witted fellow, finds himself in more trouble than he’s bargained for when Lennie, a strong but rather incompetent man, makes a transgression ultimately causing them to become fugitives of the law. In an effort to sustain themselves and remain undercover Lennie and George find work at a ranch near Soledad, California where they are employed to buck barley. At the ranch, one is able to encounter many different kinds of friendships including those based upon utility. A friendship of utility, as described by the great philosopher, Aristotle, is “an impermanent thing: it changes according to circumstances. So with the disappearance of the ground for friendship, the friendship also breaks up, because that was what kept it alive” (Aristotle). Through consideration of what Steinbeck suggests about the kind of complications that arise from the friendships one chooses and reflection upon the multiple friendships seen throughout the novel, one can conclude that Steinbeck suggests that those who choose friendships of utility have friendships that are short-lived.
The fleetingness of utility friendships can be attributed to their tendency of forming on the basis of necessity, for the friendship will be dissolved once the necessity is fulfilled. This can be observed in the friendship between Curley, the son of the owner of the ranch that employed Lennie and George, and his wife. While conversing with Lennie Curley’s wife states, “I always thought my ol’ lady stole it. Well I wasn’t gonna stay no place where I couldn’t get nowhere or make something of myself, an’ where they stole your letter. I ast her if she stole it, too, an’ she says no. So I married...
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