Annie Stein gold Period 3 April 11, 2003 Friendship in Of Mice and Men Friendship can be defined as a person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade. In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, examples of this type of friendship serve as a foundation for the entire book. By contrasting the friendship between Lennie and George against the lack companionship among the other characters in the novel, Steinbeck provides a strong argument for the value of friendship. In fact, without someone with whom to share a dream, the desire to fulfill that dream is lost.
Steinbeck often notes that the ranchers are loners. However, he often portrays George and Lennie as a pair. In fact, it almost seems that they need to be together in order for each one to feel whole (Of Mice and Men). They are well aware of the importance of their friendship in their lives. "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world...
they got no family. They don't belong no place... with us, it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us...
." (Steinbeck. While Lennie's reliance on friendship is more important than George's, George still recognizes that his relationship with Lennie makes him different from the lonely ranchers with whom he works (Themes). George is a short-tempered but devoted friend. Although he protests events in his life that make their friendship difficult, he still takes the time to help Lennie.
He may be terse and impatient at times, but he never strays from his responsibility to his friend. Multiple times, George strives to protect Lennie's health and safety, as well as mental stability. At one point in the novel, while George and Lennie are walking on the ranch, Lennie drinks water from a dirty pond, and George responds, "Lennie... you gonna be sick like you was last night!" . (Steinbeck 44) Unlike other characters in the novel who have no one watching out for them, George watches out for Lennie. While making or becoming friends is a considered decision among the ranchers, and even for George, Lennie's simple nature allows him to be friends with everyone he meets.
Regardless of his or her social standing, education, or economic stature, Lennie can find a friend in everyone. For example he goes into Crooks' room and immediately tries to become friends with him (Of Mice and Men). Although Crooks is black and is not allowed in the bunk with the other men, Lennie is unaware and unconcerned about this. Crooks is simply another person with whom to become a friend. Also, although it may seem to the reader that Lennie is most dependent on George, George does not want to lose Lennie's friendship and will often do things in order to ensure that Lennie does not leave him (Lasting Friendship).
Somewhat early in the novel, George takes Lennie's dead mouse away but promises to get him a puppy so that Lennie will forgive him. When George overhears Slim talking about the litter his puppy has, George jumps at the opportunity to fulfill the promise he made his friend, saying "Yeah! I heard him Lennie. I'll ask him" (Steinbeck 40). However, having a friend has its own difficulties as the friendship between Lennie and George indicates.
Because of Lennie's condition, Lennie and George often find themselves in dangerous situations. George recognizes that in some ways life would be easier without the burden of Lennie's friendship. At the end of the novel, when George kills Lennie, George simplifies his life in some ways (Lasting Friendship). In fact, he may have even saved his own life as Lennie often put George in dangerous situations (Themes).
However, without a companion and someone to share a dream with, dreams no longer matter. The dream that George and Lennie shared, of owning a ranch of their own, is no longer important to George after Lennie's death. He is now no different than the other lonely workers and has "surrendered his dreams in order to survive" (Themes). The friendship between George and Lennie is a unique situation in the midst of the lonely and desperate lives of the ranch workers portrayed in Of Mice and Men. George and Lennie's relationship nourishes both men and gives them a dream to share.
In contrast, the other characters stand alone in depression and hopelessness. With the loss of George's friend, and dream, by the end of the novel Steinbeck puts a final exclamation point on the importance of sharing our lives with one another.