The word foreshadow is a literary term that describes how the author discreetly gives clues to the readers that something is going to happen before it actually happens. George and Lennie, two men who have become close friends over time, travel together to a ranch to pursue their dream. George is Lennie's caretaker, for Lennie is mentally challenged. Throughout the story, foreshadowing plays a significant role in the most important chapters of George and Lennie's journey together. The three events that foreshadow the future are George telling Lennie to return to the brush if trouble occurs, Candy’s dog getting shot, and Lennie petting a dead mouse.
In the beginning, when George and Lennie are at the river, George tells Lennie to return to that exact location to silently hide in the brush and wait for him if he gets in any trouble. George wants to make sure that Lennie has somewhere to hide that is out of harm's way. In the past, Lennies gotten in trouble while working on a ranch, and both George and Lennie do not have a place to go. George knows that Lennie is bound to have history repeat itself, and make the same mistakes, so he tells Lennie to remember where the river is at. “Lennie if you jus' happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an' hide in the brush” (15). George's action foreshadows that later on, Lennie will have to return to the river. This is later realized when Lennie returns to the brush after accidently killing Curley’s wife.
Another example of foreshadowing is shown by the death of Candy’s dog. Candy’s dog is no help to the ranch and all it does is stink up the place. The dog is in pain because it is old, blind, and useless. Candy did not want to kill his dog because he had it since he was a puppy. When Carlson decides to shoot Candy’s dog, the death foreshadows Lennie’s death. Carlson says, “The way I’d shoot him, he wouldn’t feel nothing… Right back of the head” (45).