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Why do George and Lennie travel together?

During this essay on Of Mice and Men I will contemplate why George and Lennie travel together, I will look at their personalities, lifestyles and equally the lives of other characters in the first two chapters.

Of Mice and Men is a story of an unusual friendship between two nomadic workers. It was set in the depression of the 1930’s in California in a place called Soledad. Men travelled around looking for any work they could find, they had to leave their families and homes just to make some money, which was usually spent at brothels.

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake, and then they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.

The character George is described as a small, quick man with well defined features. He dreams of one day saving enough money to buy his own place and being his own boss, although many men in the depression dreamed of this. George is not a strong man physically, but what he lacks physically he makes up for mentally. “The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose.

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” The above quotation symbolizes George, and George in turn symbolizes a way of life. The first section of the quote “The first man…” suggests that George is the leader of the two.

Lennie, however, is physically “Strong as a bull”, according to George, but he is mentally as weak, as George is physically. “Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely and only moved because the heavy hands were pendula.” The above description also suggests that George is the leader. “Behind him walked his opposite…” Together they travel from ranch to ranch looking for work. Searching for their chance to make their dream a reality.

They are the perfect couple, without one another they would have no chance of success. For instance, there is George, who is reasonably bright and good at getting jobs and then there is Lennie, moronic, asinine but nevertheless a very good worker. They stick together through thick and thin and both use each other’s strong points to help them complete tasks. “I got you George and you got me.” Lennie is very forgetful; this gets him in a lot of trouble with George. George also has to look after Lennie as he has a mind of a child.

During the first chapter of the story George treats Lennie in a critical way. In particular, George swears a lot at Lennie. For Example, George tells Lennie that he has no commonsense, although not literally. “You’d drink out of a gutter if you was thirsty.” George also calls Lennie a “crazy bastard” on a number of occasions. Lennie forgot where they were going and George says, “…I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you’re a crazy bastard!” This shows George’s frustration with having to look after Lennie all the time. Lennie then goes onto say he can remember the rabbits, as he likes furry creatures. George replies “The hell with the rabbits. That’s all you ever can remember is them rabbits.”

George asks Lennie if he can remember them receiving their work cars and bus tickets, however, Lennie thinks he has lost his and tells George, “George…I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it.” George responds by saying, “You never had none, you crazy bastard. I got both of ’em here. Think I’d let you carry your own work card?” George once again swears at Lennie for not remembering. George is acting like a parent towards Lennie, as Lennie needs to be looked after. As a result of George asking Lennie about the work card he finds out that Lennie has been secretly keeping a mouse, George is furious and throws it away. He does not realize the satisfaction it gives Lennie just by petting a something furry like a mouse. George again asks Lennie where they are going to see if he has remembered. But when Lennie says, “I forgot again” George for another time says, “Jesus Christ”.

George really treats Lennie spitefully, when running through what they are going to do at the interview George tells Lennie “…You jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing. If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are, we won’t get no job, but if he sees ya work before he hears ya talk, we’re set. Ya got that?” George again puts Lennie down. Although Lennie is a little slow, George does not treat him with any respect, even though he can not live without him. When Lennie finally remembers what to say when he sees the boss of the ranch, George congratulates him by saying, “Good boy.” This relates back to the parent role George has over Lennie.

One good quote that shows Lennie thinking like a child is when George says they will heat the beans up and have supper. Lennie replies, “I like beans with ketchup.” George replies to this shouting at him to go and fetch some wood for the fire. “Well, we ain’t got no ketchup. You go get wood. An’ don’t you fool around. It’ll be dark before long.” The “An’ don’t you fool around…” section of the quote is very ironic because when Lennie goes off to search for the firewood George hears a splash down the river in the direction Lennie had taken. When Lennie returns he has only one piece of firewood so George instantaneously knows that Lennie has found another mouse, “Gi’me that mouse.” This again associates Lennie with being a child as he has been distracted from what he originally set out to do.

George asks for the mouse but Lennie denies he has one, “You gonna give me that mouse or do I have to sock you?”

“Give you what, George?” George outstretched his hand demanding that Lennie gives him the mouse. Steinbeck describes Lennie “…like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to its master…” This again is ironic because Steinbeck has used a small, snappy dog to describe Lennie but Lennie is not like that. George then gets angry and snaps his fingers, “George snapped his fingers sharply, and at the sound Lennie laid the mouse in his hand.” This quote links back to George being the master and Lennie the animal.

George through the mouse into the darkening brush and called out to Lennie, “You crazy fool. Don’t you think I could see your feet was wet where you went acrost the river to get it?” as a result of George telling Lennie off and calling him names Lennie started crying. George says, “Blubberin’ like a baby! Jesus Christ! A big guy like you.” Again Lennie is acting like a young child, sobbing due to George not letting him keep the mouse. George tells Lennie that if he finds a fresh mouse he will let him keep it for a bit. “You get another mouse that’s fresh and I’ll let you keep it a little while.” George’s conscience is making him feel guilty for being so nasty towards Lennie. Once again George is being linked with the parent role.

“I wish’t we’d get the rabbits pretty soon, George…” Lennie keeps accidentally killing all the mice he manages to find because he is unaware of his strength and power. So he asks George if he can get some rabbits. He is abscessed with furry animals. George answers his question by saying, “The hell with the rabbits. An’ you ain’t to be trusted with no live mice.” Now George is saying Lennie can not have any mice, despite him informing Lennie earlier that he would allow him to have a mouse only if it were fresh. George succeeds in starting up the fire and gets the beans out of his bindle. Lennie says to George, “I like ’em with ketchup.” Lennie is now testing George’s patients, George replies “Well, we ain’t got any”, “Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want. 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 cat-house all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do all that every month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool-room and play cars or shoot pool.” George says this when he is exceptionally angry and not just at Lennie. He is angry at the way his life is, he feels restricted by Lennie.

He carries on “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. An’ that ain’t the worst. You get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out.” “You crazy son-of-a-bitch. You keep me in hot water all the time.” George is taking his lack of fulfillment out on Lennie because looking after him makes him feel confined. Following another telling off by George, Lennie feels guilty that he is holding George back from doing all these pleasing things. So he says, “I was only foolin, George. I don’t want no ketchup. I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me.”

George reminds Lennie that he would have such a great time without him. “When I think of the swell time I could have without you, I go nuts. I never get no peace.” Lennie is to some extent aware of his good emotions and he is very sensitive. He uses these to try and make George feel guilty and have sympathy for what he has said to him. Lennie says to George “George, you want I should go away and leave you alone?” George tells Lennie that he was only joking and he does not want him to go anywhere. “No-look! I was jus’ foolin’, Lennie. Cause I want you to stay with me. Trouble with mice is you always kill ’em.” “Tell you what I’ll do, Lennie. First chance I get I’ll give you a pup…” George is now feeling guilty about the things he had said and tells Lennie he will get him a pup. Lennie is taking advantage of George feeling guilt-ridden. George is annoyed that Lennie has taken advantage of him and tells him to “…go to hell”

When George and Lennie finally arrive at the ranch they meet numerous new characters. For instance one of the most important characters is Slim. Slim is the “prince of the ranch”, the “jerkline skinner”, wise and humane. There is Candy, who is an old and pathetic swamper. Crooks, the black stable buck. He is intelligent and reads a lot. There is also Curley, the boss’s son. He is aggressive and dangerous. He has “ants In his pants” Curley tries to act big and tough because he knows that he can’t be “canned” since he is the son of the boss. Curley’s wife hates him. She is a tart, and behaves like one. She gives everyone the “eye” and gives the excuse she is looking for Curley. Carlson is another character. Last but not least there is Whit. He enjoys reading pulp magazines and playing cards in the bunkhouse. All the men on the ranch except George and Lennie seem to be lonely.

During their interview with the boss, George explains the reasons they left their previous job in Weed and almost succeeding to keep Lennie’s mouth shut. The boss is suspicious of George and calls him a “wise guy”. He suspects George is trying to put one over him. “…What you trying to put over?” He agrees to give them a job, he says “All right. But don’t try to put nothing over, ’cause you can’t get away with nothing. I seen wise guys before…”

George tells the boss that the only reason he is travelling with Lennie is because they are cousins and he promised Lennie’s “old lady” he would take care of him. As Lennie got kicked in the head by a horse when he was a youngster, which as a result, made him a little dumb. However, George tells Slim that the reason he travels around with Lennie is because they look out for each other “We kinda look after each other.” George also says that Lennie is a magnificent worker and that he is a surprisingly nice person, although he does say Lennie is not bright. George says he has known Lennie for ages and that he enjoys travelling with someone you know.

In conclusion I believe George and Lennie travel together because they are both lonely men who need someone to be with. They need one another to survive, to live, to try and make their dream come true.

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Why do George and Lennie travel together?. (2017, Oct 27). Retrieved from

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