Lennie & George's Relationship in Of Mice and Men

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  • 0:01 First Impressions
  • 0:42 Master and Dog
  • 1:46 Foreshadowing
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

In this lesson, we will look at the relationship of the two main characters of ''Of Mice and Men'', Lennie and George. We'll examine how this relationship differs from others in the book, and how the bond between the two men ultimately foreshadows the ending of the novel.

First Impressions

Two dark figures walk along the riverside. We see the large figure drinking from the river and 'snorting into the water like a horse' and the slender figure yelling at him for drinking so much. This, our introduction to Lennie and George, sets up our expectation of their relationship throughout the rest of the novel. Lennie is typically depicted in an animal-like way, while George is clever and sharp. Although George claims to one character that Lennie is his cousin whom he promised to take care of, we never learn how they really do know each other. Somehow, George became Lennie's caretaker, and they continued to work and travel together.

Master and Dog

Throughout the novel, George and Lennie have a relationship like a master and his dog. George is responsible for Lennie, making sure he has work, food, and does not get into too much trouble. He gives Lennie commands, which Lennie is supposed to obey, and when Lennie does not, George scolds him. When they prepare to go work at the ranch, for example, George says, '. . . I'll give him the work tickets, but you ain't gonna say a word. You jus' stand there and don't say nothing.' After Lennie indicates that he understands and will do as he is told, George says, 'Good boy! That's fine, Lennie!'

Lennie does not seem to understand the consequences of his actions aside from what George will think, say, or do. George cautions Lennie early on not to talk to or be around Curley's wife. Lennie disobeys, but tells her, 'If George sees me talkin' to you he'll give me hell.' Even after Lennie accidentally kills his puppy and Curley's wife, he does not think in terms of doing something wrong, but in terms of George being upset with him and not letting him tend the rabbits he has been promised.

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