Of Mice And Men

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade June 2001

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A Gentle One to Love Many people say that all a person needs is "A gentle One to Love." In the book Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, a partially mentally retarded man named Lennie grows attached to his friend George and follows him everywhere he goes, accidentally getting them both into all kinds of trouble. Eventually George realizes that both he and Lennie can't keep running away from their troubles, and shoots Lennie. There are many different relationships throughout this book, such as George and Lennie's, Curly and his wife's, and Kandy and his dog. Every one needs relationships, but all relationships also need to end.

The relationship that Steinbeck wants to be most noticeable is the one between George and Lennie. "Sure, We kinda look after each other. He ain't bright. Hell of a worker, though. Hell of a nice fella, but he ain't bright.

I've knew him for a long time" (pg. 34). This is how George answers Slim when he inquires whether or not he and Lennie travel together. In this answer George shows how much he appreciates Lennie's companionship, and how he is glad to not be a lonely traveler. He is also trying to give a reputation as a strong, hard worker to his pal Lennie. "I thought you was mad at me, George." "No, Lennie. I ain't mad. I never been mad, an' I ain't now. That's a thing I want ya to know" (pg.106). This is a conversation between George and Lennie just before George shoots him. George has always let Lennie know when he's done something wrong in the past by saying things such as, "When I think of the swell time I could have without you, I go nuts. I never get no peace." Of course George knows deep down that he really needs Lennie as much as Lennie needs him. The quote from page 106 shows that he realizes for the first time that none of it was Lennie's fault. He also understands that he shouldn't yell at Lennie, because he looks up to him, as a son would to his father. Lennie shows his admiration of George by constantly wanting to show George how good a boy he could be by remembering every word that George says. This is shown at the end of the book after Lennie kills Curley's wife. Before they meet with Curley's father on their first day of work, George told Lennie to hide in the bushes near the riverbank if he ever got in trouble. Although Lennie can remember next to nothing day to day, he remembers their hiding spot, and this is how George finds Lennie, and saves him from Curley's wrath, by becoming his best friends keeper. Another case where it is shown how Lennie remembers everything that George says is the fact that he can remember George's story about the rabbits and their own farm. "There are men too gentle to live among wolves Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove. Such gentle men are lonely in a merchants world, Unless they have a gentle one to love." This quote resembles George and Lennie's relationship more than any other relationship ever seen or read about. Lennie is a man too gentle to live among wolves, and George is his gentle one to love. If Lennie didn't have George people like Curley would devour him. I also believe that George would be lost without Lennie, and I think that is why George is riding on a train alone at the end of the movie. Lennie is the thing that keeps George busy, because he has to constantly look after him as he would a young child. Lennie took up so much of George's life that now that Lennie is gone George has to start a new life.

Another relationship that is shown in the book is the one between Candy and his dog. "The old man came slowly in to the room. He had his broom in one hand. And at his heels there walked a dragfooted sheep dog, gray of muzzle, and with pale, blind old eyes. The dog struggled lamely to the side of the room and lay down, grunting softly to himself and licking his grizzled, moth-eaten coat (pg. 24). This is the image that I have of Candy, an old man with his old dog by his side. In my image it is easy to see that the dog is suffering at that he will soon die. Another evident factor in my image is that Candy knows that his faithful companion is very old and sick, and that he will soon pass away. "I ought to have shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog"(pg.61). This is the first time that Candy has brought up his dog, since Carlson shot him. This shows Candy's trust in George, which is the trust that used to belong to Candy's dog. This event also foreshadows what will happen to George and Lennie's relationship. Just as Candy's dog died, Lennie will die, but George will feel much better than Candy, because he will know that his best friend in the world, Lennie, died peacefully, and was shot by his, "Gentle one to love." Curley and his wife also shared a relationship, the bond of marriage, but their relationship wasn't anywhere close to as peaceful as the other two relationships mentioned. "He spends half his time lookin' for her, and the rest of the time she's lookin' for him"(pg. 53). Curley and his wife have a very untrusting relationship, and don't love each other. Curley uses his wife as a possession to show off to her friends, and his wife uses him as income and a place to live. They are always looking for each other, because they don't trust one another to be alone with other people and they both don't want to lose their possessions. "I'm glad you bust up Curley a bit. He had it comin' to him. Sometimes I'd like to bust him myself"(pg. 81). This shows that Curley's wife doesn't care about him at all, and is happy that Lennie broke her husbands hand. "So I married Curley. Met him at the Riverside Dance Palace the same night"(pg. 88). This is said by Curley's wife to Lennie at the end of her story about how she could have become a movie star. She was letting out her life story to Lennie, and if Lennie was actually listening he would have noticed that the relationship between Curley and his wife didn't consist of love, as the relationships between Candy and his dog, and himself and George did.

Every one needs relationships, but all relationships also have to end. The book Of Mice and Men focuses on the relationships between George and Lennie, Candy and his dog, and Curley and his wife. One conclusion I have drawn is that love can come in many ways, in a best friend way, and a husband and wife way. But love can also be fake, as it is in the relationship between Curley and his wife. Another conclusion I drew from this book is that relationships between humans and animals can be as or even more pertinent than relationships between two humans. To be happy, everyone needs "A gentle one to love."