Of Mice and Men - the Importance of George

Topics: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Interpersonal relationship Pages: 5 (1870 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Even from the very start of John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men, the uniqueness of George, as a character, is already noticeable. He is described as "small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp strong features" and has an obvious dominance over the relationship between Lennie and himself. This lets the reader know from a very early stage in the book that George is different, and probably the essential character. George's character seems to be used by Steinbeck to reflect the major themes of the novel: loneliness, prejudice, the importance of companionship, the danger of devoted companionships, and the harshness of Californian ranch life.

George's relationship with Lennie has made him selfless; his conversations, with and with out Lennie, are generally revolving around Lennie, although in the case of their dream-ranch George seems to find fulfilment for himself as well. Due to these altruistic tendencies that he shows throughout the novel, a danger is bestowed upon George; he tends to care for Lennie far too much, and too little for himself. In occasional moments, he escapes his sympathy and compassion for Lennie, and realises the burden that he causes. This usually results in George taking his frustration out on Lennie, which can often harm his simple mind, leaving Lennie upset and forced to confess to his own uselessness, and George feeling guilty for what he has caused. We can learn very little about George through his actual conversations, which made it necessary for Steinbeck to focus the novel on him in particular, and let the reader gain an closer insight on him through his actions. Generally, he seems to be caring, intelligent and sensible, but is greatly worn by the constant attention Lennie requires. This illustrates a major theme in Of Mice and Men, the dangers that arise when one becomes involved in a dedicated relationship.

Despite the frustration that Lennie causes, without him George would probably be a lot like the other men on the ranch; simply roaming the country-side of California looking for work, and although he often prides himself on being different, he sometimes complains, usually after Lennie has caused trouble, and wishes that he could be like a normal guy and not have to live with Lennie's hindrance. An example of this is seen when George responds sharply to Lennie's constant request for ketchup. "If I was alone I could live so easy…no trouble…no mess at all." These bursts can be seen as being quite incongruous, as he temporarily appears happy in the thought that he could blow his pay each month as other men do, enjoying himself in a pool bar or a brothel before returning to work, yet at other times, he condemns other men on the ranch for doing this. This highlights another of the major themes in the novel; the importance of companionship.

Although he may seem to be discontent, and wishes he was like the other men on the ranch, the truth of the situation however, is that George is simply expressing his frustrations with some points of his relationship with Lennie. This can be seen in the commonly revisited phrase, "But we ain't like that…I got you and you got me". At first this may seem to the reader to be somewhat incorrect, as their relationship is very one-sided in that George sacrificing much of his own time and effort to Lennie, a suggestion that is supported by Lennie's hallucination of Aunt Clara, "when he had a pie he always gave you half, or more than half". However, it becomes clear that their relationship means a lot more, as it is Lennie who keeps George out of the brothels and pool bars, which leaves him better off in the long run, as the more he saves by not indulging on such luxuries, the more he saves, and the closer they get to fulfilling their dream or owning their own farm. Crooks later highlights the importance of Lennie in his discussion with George; Lennie simply provides George with someone to talk to, to stop him going mad,...
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