University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Of mice and Men theme- friendship
A Life Long Companion
Friendship is ever-present and a necessity in leading a satisfying life. This is evident in the novella “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. The story takes off in the Depression Era, a time when distrust was abundant and dreams were constantly shattered. Our main characters, George and Lennie, set off seeking a new beginning to their lives but things take a turn for the worse; despite this, their friendship still flourishes and flowers in the midst of all the obstacles.
Between the two main characters, George is more intelligent, but to survive, he cares for and loves Lennie in all the ways that he can. George has foresight and creates back-up plans for Lennie if the situations turn sour, telling Lennie,“ Hide in the brush till I come for you. Can you remember that? ” (17). Lennie, on the other hand, keeps George hopeful and upbeat, motivating him by saying, “Come on, George. Tell me. Please, George. Like you done before” (14). The pair fit like puzzle pieces filling in what the other doesn’t have. It is inspiring to see a tremendous friendship bloom in such a despairing time. The two clearly distinguish themselves from “them other guys” (15) and the times they are by each other are the times they truly thrive.
Another way the two thrive is through their dream. This dream is a recurring theme in this novella and it symbolizes hope. They are both constantly dreaming about “livin off the fatta the lan” (15) and how Lennie will get to tend the rabbits. There is some irony in there being so much optimism in two migrant, low class workers but the two make it work. By keeping this dream alive the two have something to work for, something to put their fifty dollars a month towards. This dream also serves as quite the problem solver for the two. Each time Lennie gets into trouble, George ends up worrying about the consequences. Lennie puts George at ease by reminding him of the dream and George always ends up forgiving Lennie.
Forgiveness is how Lennie and George can keep their friendship going and continue their journey towards the dream. The story is very centered around the problems Lennie creates and how George tries to fix it. And the end of
the story, Lennie confesses to “doing another bad thing” (44) but George just brushes it off, saying, “It don’t make no difference” (13). At the beginning, however, George admits to Slim that he had done something bad to Lennie and in this case Lennie forgives him. Throughout any relationship there are bound to be ups and downs and George and Lennie maintain a healthy friendship by forgiveness. Steinbeck gave George’s character quite a big heart because he may complain about his misfortunes whilst staying with Lennie but he never leaves Lennie’s side.
While seeking a new chapter to their lives, George and Lennie develop a unique and complex friendship. The two lifelong companions go through a ton of trouble and it is amazing how their friendship lasts till the very end. Steinbeck illustrates how with care, optimism, and forgiveness, friendships can flourish even in the midst of treacherous obstacles.