The Complex Friendship of George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men

Categories: Comparison

In John Steinbeck's classic novella Of Mice and Men, the characters George and Lennie stand out as two contrasting yet complementary figures. Their friendship is not only a means of survival but also a source of conflict and tension that drives the narrative forward. While George is portrayed as a small, quick-witted man with dreams of owning his own land, Lennie is depicted as a large, mentally handicapped individual whose innocence and strength are both endearing and troublesome.

George, the pragmatic and ambitious one of the duo, harbors the dream of one day owning a piece of land where he can live independently and be his own boss.

His determination is hindered by his responsibility towards Lennie, whom he has cared for since the passing of Lennie's Aunt Clara. Despite his occasional frustration with Lennie's mistakes and childlike behavior, George recognizes that his friend's presence is essential for his own well-being. In many ways, Lennie serves as a reminder of the importance of companionship and loyalty, qualities that George values deeply.

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On the other hand, Lennie's character is defined by his physical strength and mental limitations. His simple-mindedness and inability to understand the consequences of his actions often lead to trouble, both for himself and for George. However, beneath his imposing exterior lies a gentle soul who finds solace in George's stories of their shared dream of owning a farm. Lennie's attachment to this dream, particularly his excitement at the thought of tending to the rabbits, highlights his longing for a sense of belonging and purpose.

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Despite their differences, George and Lennie share a common desire for a better life, free from the hardships and uncertainties of their current existence as migrant workers. Their friendship is a source of strength and comfort in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving. Through their interactions and struggles, Steinbeck explores themes of loneliness, companionship, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

One of the key aspects of their relationship is the way in which George takes on the role of caregiver and protector for Lennie. While George may at times express frustration or impatience towards Lennie's behavior, he ultimately understands the importance of looking out for his friend. In a sense, Lennie's dependence on George mirrors George's own need for companionship and purpose.

Moreover, the dynamic between George and Lennie serves as a commentary on the nature of friendship and loyalty. Despite their differences in personality and abilities, the bond between them remains unbreakable. George's willingness to sacrifice his own desires for the sake of Lennie's well-being underscores the depth of their connection and the value they place on each other's presence in their lives.

As the novella unfolds, the complexities of George and Lennie's relationship come to the forefront, revealing the challenges and rewards of true friendship. Through their shared experiences and shared dreams, they navigate a world that is often unkind to those who are different or disadvantaged. In the end, it is their unwavering loyalty to each other that defines their legacy and cements their places in the annals of literary history.


Updated: Feb 15, 2024
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The Complex Friendship of George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men. (2017, Feb 05). Retrieved from

The Complex Friendship of George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men essay
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