The less we have to clutter our lives, the more we can focus on what’s most important. During the Great Depression, humans struggled day to day, surviving on little while gaining sustenance from their relationships and hopes for the future. Lennie and George, from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, are two characters who demonstrate what’s most important in life. Though the two had few possessions, they had each other and dreams for a future of freedom.
At the beginning of the novel, the relationship between Lennie and George is immediately tested, but ultimately their love of each other keeps them together. The two had to flee their last job because Lennie unwittingly caused trouble. Even though jobs were hard to come by, George helps his friend escape certain death to face an uncertain future. Despite George’s lament that his life would be so must easier without Lennie, he continues to stick by him and protect him, proving his love for his hapless companion.
As the story continues, George and Lennie build upon their dream of owning their own place and “livin off the fat o’ the lan.” Like many at the time, the two are migrant workers who travel from ranch to ranch, busting their backs to make another’s crop grow, all the while they long for the freedom to make their own decisions and livelihood. George spins tales about what their lives would be like on their own farm, where they can plant and harvest the same crop, where Lennie can tend his rabbits and defend them against predators. Instead of working under the thumb of a bully like Curley, they’d have no one to answer to but themselves; they’d have freedom. The Great Depression strained human relationships and stifled dreams, but instead of falling into despair Lennie and George turn to each other and their hopes for freedom to sustain themselves. Though they seemed poorer than men like Curley and his father, what they had was immeasurably more.
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