In John Steinbeck's classic novel "Of mice and men" the testament of true friendship is the main theme. Steinbeck uses two migrant workers, Lennie and George, to illustrate the main themes of the novel. The novel is set during the Great Depression, approximately 1937 in California. The status of Lennie and George at the time is Steinbeck's way of illustrating the time period.
Lennie Small is an oxymoron. Lennie is a huge, strong, half-witted man that has the heart of a child but has the strength of an ox. Lennie loves rabbits or small and fuzzy lovable creatures, such as mice. The irony of the title is that Lennie is a huge creature and as big a man as you will ever see but its not the size of one that makes a man, it's the heart and mind of a one. In a way Lennie is the mouse because of his innocence and George is a man because of the burden he carries with him.
By giving George the last name of Milton, Steinbeck seems to be showing that he is an example of fallen man, someone who is doomed to loneliness and who wants to return to the Garden of Eden. Perhaps this is why George is always talking about having his own place and living "off the fat of the land," as Adam and Eve did before their fall.
In a way, Lennie is always described in an animal sense. In the beginning of the novel he is referred to as having paws or he snorts like a horse. Every single minute someone is taking care of Lennie. First Aunt Clara has the responsibility then George.
Lennie always wants puppies or talks about rabbits that he will tend on their future farm. All these fury little creatures are symbols of Lennie's personality. "He has no meanness in him" George describes to one of the other workers. This statement is a lack of understanding that Lennie is potentially dangerous and can do bad things without intention. The opening line of the book states "A few miles south of SoledadÃ¢ÂÂ¦." Soledad is an actual place in California. The meaning of Soledad is loneliness, leading to another symbol of George's burden of solitude. George has small views of running a cheap, small ranch and the loneliness that he attaches to himself is Lennie. Lennie and George are both mice in that; they do not dream big dreams but wish to have rabbits that can be tended.
George and Lennie are opposites of each other. George is small, fast and witty. Where as, Lennie is large, slow and half-witted. This plays a key role in their friendship. Just as Arnold and Danny work well in movies together. "I am big and dumb and cannot see, sit on my shoulders and you shall guide me through the world and I shall carry you."(The mighty) When Candy's dog was shot by one of the other workers he felt guilty that he let another man kill his dog for him. True love is when you do what is best for someone or thing. George does not make this mistake, instead he finds Lennie before anyone else has, after the barn incident, and tells him to face the Salinas River. He waits till he hears that the other men are closer and then shoots Lennie in the back of the head.
At first you feel sad and angry and then you figure out that George saved Lennie from a life of Being caged and chained up like an animal. George loved his dog enough to kill it himself. In a way, George sets himself free from a lifetime of trouble and pain. He creates the thing he was destined for the most, loneliness.