Friendships in of Mice and Men

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Throughout life, one establishes friendships to better ensure their future. The novel Of Mice And Men, written by John Steinbeck, is about a group of traveling labor workers and the hardships that they overcome. The friendship between George, one of the main characters, and Lenny, a retarded man and of Candy, a crippled man, and his old dog, although different, they each share many of the same feelings toward each other. Also, by establishing these friendships, each partner is benefited and is given life motivation. However, all good things must come to an end, and when each partner is separated from their companion, their significant bonds are broken. Because of their established friendships, George, Lenny, Candy and his dog are able to live happy lives filled with joyous and exciting times.

Throughout the book, many feelings are expressed between the relationship of George and Lenny and of Candy and his dog.

Ever since they had lived together, George and Lenny loved and cared for each other every waiting day. Because “[they] [had] each other,” George and Lenny became more loving and compassionate, not just towards themselves, but also towards others (104). Unlike the other traveling workers who journeyed alone, George and Lenny were together, fighting off the hardships of The Great Depression with a loving relationship. This bond kept each other’s hearts pure and refrained them from turning bitter. Ever since Candy’s dog was a puppy, he and Candy had shared a trustworthy connection filled with loyalty for each other. In Candy’s younger years of life, when his partner “was a good sheep dog,” they had started a trusting relationship, which they carried out throughout the rest of their lives (24). Since Candy had his pup ever since it was born, Candy was its only master. Because canines are extremely loyal to their master, this loyal bond was able to flourish. Finally, because Lenny has been with George all his life, he feels a bond of trust between them and is completely loyal to George. During their early years, when George wasn’t so kind to Lenny, he could have told Lenny “to walk over a cliff… and over he’d go” (40). Although George never did something this cruel, he did do some grueling things. He even got Lenny into fights. However, as time went on, he too became loyal and a trusting relationship grew. Even though these partners are very different, they still share many of the same feelings towards each other.

In the relationship of George and Lenny and of Candy and his dog, each partner gains something and this is the motivation for the friendship. Because of Lenny’s mental state, as he travels with, and becomes friends with, George, he benefits by having a guardian to follow him around and keep him safe. Ever since they were young, “Lenny just come along” with George, and from that day forward he benefited from Georges safety (40). Lenny is retarded and his mind cannot process enough useful information to allow him to live a successful life, contributing to society. If George had not allowed Lenny to travel with him then Lenny would either end up homeless, in prison, or dead. In addition, because Candy’s dog is now useless, he benefits off Candy by receiving a guardian to protect him and guide him through the rest of his life. Although he had been an excellent canine in his day, because he “ain’t no good to” anyone now, his life would be futile if he did not have a guide for his remaining years. However, Candy did not care for him entirely out of kindness, he too benefits from their relationship. Because Candy is a cripple, he wants to feel like he is needed, and having someone that depends on him, allows Candy to live a joyous life. Although Lenny does not have much to give, George still benefits off their friendship by receiving a loyal companion to accompany him on his journeys. Because “[they] travel together,” George does not have to be burdened with the loneliness that could drive a man insane. George observes the other traveling labor workers become hard and lonely because they have nobody to converse with on their journeys. Although he benefits from their relationship, George pays dearly with his guardianship over Lenny. By establishing these relationships, each partner is benefited and given life motivation.

Both the friendship of George and Lenny and of Candy and his dog lose their significant bonds when the partners are separated. Because Candy and his dog provide companionship for each other, when his dog dies Candy is left alone and unstable. Once his dog had been put up for the death sentence, Candy was left alone, pondering their wonderful memories together as he lied “rigidly on his bed and stared at the ceiling” (48). Candy’s purpose in life was now over, for he had no one that depended on him. Now the only thing that drove him was the hope that George’s dream would come true, and that George, Lenny and he would get their own little plot of land. After George kills Lenny, although this was an act of kindness, George loses his purpose as a guardian. After he had pulled the trigger, “George shivered and looked at the gun,” for he knew that his guardianship was now over (106). George understood that it was his responsibility to kill Lenny. Although this act of kindness will burden him for the rest of his life, George still did the honorable thing. When Lenny died, George loses his dream of having a place of their own. By now, the dream had spread to more than just George and Lenny and when Lenny and “their little place” die away George becomes miserable and hurt (94). The time that followed this tragedy was the first time of George’s adult life with out Lenny. Also, up till now George’s purpose in life was to care for, and keep Lenny safe. With Lenny dead, George feels that his life had no purpose, for he could not keep Lenny from danger’s grasp. When each friendship becomes separated, the still living partner feels no more purpose for life.

Because of their established friendships, George, Lenny, Candy and his dog are able to live happy, joy filled lives as they overcome the hardships of The Great Depression. Although their significant bonds are broken when the partners are separated, when they are together, the partners benefit and share many feelings towards each other. Some say opposites attract, and buy using this scientific law to create friendships with different people; our society would be a friendlier and overall better place.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – New York : Covici-Friede, 1937