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Friendship in of Mice and Men

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How does having a companion affect one’s life? In terms of having emotional stability, there is one thing in life that is needed, which is friends. Throughout the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck reveals that “a guy needs somebody.” Without friends people suffer with loneliness and solitude, like most men on the ranch. The intelligent but also weak George, and the playful but strong Lennie have a friendship that is rather for both their mutual benefits. They each rely on each other’s strengths which allows them to bring out the best in themselves.

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George and Lennie’s friendship is one that sets them apart. They are distinguished from all other characters in the story because they have each other to look after. When they arrive at the ranch many are confused and quite baffled as to why there are two men traveling together and who share a bond. “Ain’t many guys travel around together… I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”(17) During this time of the Great Depression, there weren’t many people who traveled together or had a companion like George and Lennie have each other. This is why their partnership confuses and surprises many men on the ranch too. After everyone was questioning George and Lennie, George told Slim the truth about there relationship. “We kinda look after each other.”(18) Their relationship is not just for the sake of Lennie’s survival, but for both their mutual benefits. George has a sharp mind and is able to help shade Lennie from social mishaps and the cruelties of the world, but he is very small and wiry. Lennie on the other hand is strong, and in many ways just as responsible for George as George is Lennie. George tells Lennie to never pick a fight, and as a result, Lennie is hesitant to defend himself or use his strength in a hurtful way. What one man lacks, the other man makes up for, which allows George to use Lennie’s strength to get them out of certain situations, and Lennie uses Georges strengths to help him through everyday life. In contrast, another benefit to having a close friendship is that you will never suffer from loneliness.

As people grow up they can become lonely, and can be isolated inside. When you have someone to share your life with, you life becomes exciting and fascinating. As Lennie and George traveled together, they would have certain fights with each other, but in the end they didn’t mean any of it. ‘I was only foolin’, George. I don’t want no ketchup. I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me. . . But I wouldn’t eat none, George. I’d leave it all for you. You could cover your beans with it and I wouldn’t touch none of it.'(14) George would yell at Lennie and tell him if he didn’t have him he could do as he pleased, when in reality George didn’t mean any of these things. George was happy to have a friend in Lennie, so he wouldn’t have to be lonely. With Lennie’s simple mind, he couldn’t comprehend what George was talking about half of the time, but he knew that George got upset over simple things, like ketchup. Lennie would apologize because he too was very thankful to have George to go travel with and didn’t want to lose him. Although he did not understand the complexity of things sometimes, he knew that he had a true friend who he trusted wouldn’t leave his side. The friendship between them also went above and beyond what was obvious, in fact they shared a common dream together. They dreamed of a piece of land of their own, and a couple of acres, a cow, some pigs, and rabbits that Lennie dreams of tending to. Just as Lennie needs mice and pups and rabbits to take care of, George needs Lennie to tend.

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Throughout Of Mice and Men Steinbeck shows how important friendship and companionship really are. For a group of men who have been lonely on a ranch, seeing Lennie and George traveling together as a pair was different, and was very shocking to them. Having a friend who you can trust and rely on during this time was a very rare, but also a great thing to have. It allowed for each person to balance each other out, and have a hope-filled life.    

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