John Steinbeck’s novel
John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, is a story about George and Lennie, two workers that have been forced off their bus miles away from where they are supposed to work on a California farm. The two men are complete opposites in every way. George is a short man with strong, sharp features, while Lennie is a tall, giant man with a shapeless face and a mild mental disability. Throughout their journey, Steinbeck portrays one of the major themes in the book, friendship, how important it is and how it progressively develop from the beginning and to the end.
At the beginning of the story, George and Lennie’s relationship is nothing more than a mutual friendship. George only sees their relationship as a pity friendship because of Lennie’s disabilities. He thinks that he doesn’t need Lennie as much as Lennie needs him, but in actuality he does. Knowing that Lennie is handicapped George tries to help and protect him like their cousins. By sticking with Lennie he helps keep him out of trouble and fixes Lennie accidental messes. Even though George feels the need to protect Lennie, he also sees him as an annoying burden. At the beginning of the book, George says to Lennie, “God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat in any place I want hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do all that every damnmonth. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool…An’ whatta I got…I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time”(1,89). In the quote, George complains about his life if he didn’t have Lennie around. It sounds harsh and it sounds like George doesn’t want or need Lennie but he says that in the perspective of a lonely bitter farmer, he then George laters says, “We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn.But not us” (1,115-116). He says this only to remind that they are not regular, lonesome, bitter farmers but they have each other to keep from getting to that point. The beginning might seem like George doesn’t need Lennie just as much as Lennie needs him but he does, he later realizes and admits that without having to take care of Lennie George would be alone and bitter.
When coming to the end, George and Lennie’s friendship has progressed into them helping each other mentally and physically. When being asked about their close friendship, “We travel together”(1,81), he also says, “It ain’t so funny, him an’ me goin’ aroun’ together. . .Him and me was both in Auburn. I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin’. Got kinda used to each other after a little while”(3,12). George implies that they are like relatives giving them an excuse for being so close. When justifying that they aren’t like normal farmers who travel alone, George slowly eases into really caring for Lennie as a good friend.
In the end, George and Lennie’s relationship develops into something more than a friendship. Even though in the beginning their relationship was more of a mutual pity friendship, the results end in a tragic and merciful sacrifice on Lennie’s life in order to save him from his inevitable death. Their relationship was a genuine friendship that was progressive, rare, and the “greatest friendship in the world” ( of their time).