“Of Mice and Men” Friendship Power: a Journey of Sacrifice and Protection
How it works
Friendship in “Of Mice and Men”
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out,” was once said by Walter Winchell. The idea of friendship is revealed many times in Of Mice and Men, a novella written by John Steinbeck. The novella is placed during the 1930s, when two characters, George and Lennie, find work at a ranch in Northern California. Even before the ranch, the two men traveled together and had a very strong friendship. At their new ranch, their friendship grows and leads to George making the hardest decision in his life.
George’s Commitment to Lennie
Through George’s actions and words, Steinbeck reveals that friendships are necessary in life, especially during the hardest of times. George’s words demonstrate that he truly cares about Lennie, his well-being, and their friendship, which leads him to make the decision to save Lennie. After George scolds him, Lennie threatens to leave until George shouts, “ ‘No- look! I was just foolin’, Lennie. ‘Cause I want you to stay with me. The trouble with mice are you always kill ‘em. ‘ He paused, ‘ Tell you what I’ll do, Lennie. First chance I get, I’ll give you a pup’” (Steinbeck 13).
How it works
The Deep Bond Between George and Lennie
When they are on the road traveling to different work sites with each other, they both have to take care of each other. As proven through the quote, George is willing to make bold statements, so he and Lennie can stay together. Again, George shows how much he cares for and pities Lennie after the accident with Curley’s wife: “ ‘Guys like us got no family. They make a little stake, and then they blow it in. They ain’t got nobody in the world that gives a hoot in hell about ‘em-’ [… ]‘But not us,’ he said. ‘Because-’ ‘Because I got you an-’” (Steinbeck 104). While George and Lennie are sitting on the hill towards the end, George reveals how different his life would’ve been if he wasn’t always with Lennie. Instead, he realizes that he is incredibly grateful that he has Lennie by his side all the time.
The Ultimate Sacrifice: George’s Heart-Wrenching Decision
Steinbeck uses George’s actions to reveal that the sacrifice of his only friend causes a terrible, strong impact on him. George and Lennie sat at the top of the hill after Curley’s wife reached her end, and they revisited their dreams of having their own ranch “ [a]nd George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set, and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. […] George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him, back up on the bank near the pile of old ashes” (Steinbeck 106). After George saves Lennie from future problems, he immediately becomes sorrowful. When Steinbeck explains that George is shaking and shivering, he implies that George is in shock from killing his best friend, who was like his family.
The Necessity of Friendship During Hard Times
While he reflects on the relationship that he and Lennie had, “George sat stiffly on the bank, and looked at his right hand that had thrown the gun away. The group burst into the clearing, and Curley was ahead. He saw Lennie lying on the sand” (Steinbeck 107). As soon as George heard the other men come into the clearing, he put on a brave face and acted like everything was okay. He was devastated; he just murdered his best and only friend. This quote explains how heartbroken George is through how stiff and shocked he is after he kills Lennie. George’s actions and speech show that friendships are needed when life becomes extremely rough. When George notices that Lennie is going to be hurt and attacked by the other men because of his accident, he becomes nervous and fearful. If the other men had gotten to Lennie first, George would have probably gotten hurt along with Lennie if he had tried to protect him from the men from the ranch. George is protective of Lennie as a result of him feeling responsible for him. Therefore, friendship is a strong feeling that can make people act out and make decisions they normally wouldn’t.
- Steinbeck, John. “Of Mice and Men.” (1937).