Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
At first glance, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a tale of two best friends traveling the countryside looking for work. This would seem like the norm for lower class people trying to survive in the rat race of society. Yet, the story isn’t merely George and Lennie’s search for jobs. Rather, it is about their all out quest for the American Dream, the dream of owning their own stake of land and ending their subservience to their bosses. In order for this to happen, however, George and Lennie had to remain a team. They had to pool their resources as well as their manpower, something their apparent mutual love for each other seemed to take care of. Yet, an irrevocable rift between them sent the dream crashing down. This caused George’s feelings of love and understanding to change from being existent to non-existent.
Since the passing of Lennie’s aunt, George felt an obligation to take care of Lennie as well as to act as his guardian. George fulfilled this role with love and understanding. We first see change in George’s attitude towards Lennie when they moved onto the ranch, their place of work. George immediately feels that he is jeopardizing his relationship with other men in order to defend Lennie’s actions. George is further discouraged when he realizes, based on Lennie’s behavior that he can never be left alone- even to go to the bathroom. Lennie can’t even be trusted not to kill puppies while petting them. Lennie, in fact, goes so far as to kill the owner’s daughter-in-law. By this point, George, a nice yet overly ambitious individual, could no longer control this growing contempt towards his once beloved Lennie.
As George’s feelings changed, he started vocalizing his frustrations towards Lennie. Before, George would plead with Lennie with words of love to run away. Now, George actually suggests it. George relates to Lennie that he feels that he is “holding me (George) back from the good life”, and that he could get his own little stake of land if he freed himself of Lennie and his shortcomings. This is something the old George would never dream of saying. George further alienates Lennie by scolding him mercilessly after Lennie innocently told Crooks their future dreams. These comments reflected George’s sentiments exactly. Lennie had become more of a nuisance than George could even handle.
Once it becomes obvious that Lennie killed Curley’s wife, George knew what they had to do. There was no place for a retarded man in George’s coarse, hard world. George killed Lennie for both their own goods. Neither of them could handle the constant fleeing that Lennie’s condition caused them to do. Lennie was too much of a trouble for himself, and for that matter, George as well. George could not deal with the responsibility of taking care of Lennie anymore. George’s loving feelings towards Lennie changed drastically, so he killed him and them went on with his life.
George didn’t have to bother with Lennie; he could have abandoned him and gone on his own way. But, he did not do that. He stayed with Lennie watching over him almost like a parent to a child. Even though Lennie always got George in trouble, George never stopped loving him and always stood by him. The friendship they shared went beyond what was transparent. They each shared a dream and both knew they meant the world to each other. For all their relationship shows for friendship and loyalty, it also shows how sometimes you have to do things you never thought you would do. When George is forced to shoot Lennie in the head, we would have never thought he would do that. But, we can see that under the circumstances, George had no other choice. He only had two choices. He would have let the other people get to him first and watch them torture Lennie while he died a long horrible death. Or, George would do it himself and get over it quickly where Lennie would not know what hit him. This is also true in life. Many times we are faced with tough choices and even though they maybe the hardest we would have to go
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