Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck is a short novel that exhibits many forms of interactions with other people and different types of relationships. Lennie, George, Candy, and Slim show the most friendship within the novel, and they help each other through hard times.
The relationship that is most prevalent through out the novel is that between George and Lennie. George is always helpful to Lennie, in almost all circumstances. We first see this in the beginning of the story when the two of them are at the pond, and Lennie bends over to drink the dirty water. "'Lennie!' he said sharply. 'Lennie, for God' sakes don't drink so much. [...] You gonna be sick like you was last night.' (3)" This shows that George really cares for Lennie's well-being; he does not want him to become ill. In the bunkhouse, George was telling Slim about the relationship that he and Lennie used to have, when George liked to play tricks on him.
"I used to have a hell of a lot of fun with 'im. Used to play jokes on 'im 'cause he was too dumb to know. [...] Tell you what made me stop that. One day a bunch of guys was standin' around up on the Sacremento River. I was feelin' pretty smart. I turns to Lennie and says 'Jump in.' An' he jumps. Couldn't swim a stroke. He damn near drowned before we could get to him. An' he was so damn nice to me for pullin' him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in. Well, I ain't done nothing like that no more. (44)" George then came to understand how helpless Lennie really was. He learned that he was more in control of Lennie's actions than Lennie was of himself. George doesn't play tricks on him anymore because he is afraid that he may hurt Lennie badly.
George is always trying to be sure that Lennie likes him and doesn't resent him. This is shown after George takes away Lennie's mouse and promises to get him a puppy. They overheard Slim talking about his dog having puppies and George quickly said to Lennie, "Yeah! I heard him Lennie. I'll ask him. (40)" George wants to make sure that Lennie won't be angry with him, so he keeps his promises.
Lennie feels special because of his relationship to George. He often times will make George tell him again and again how they are different from other people. "'With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. [...] If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.' Lennie broke in. 'But not us! An' why? Because... because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why.' (14)" Lennie always enjoys being reassured that George will forever stay with him, through thick and thin.
Lennie generally likes people, and enjoys making new friendships. This is perfectly shown when Lennie was in the barn and wanted to talk to Crooks. After a short argument, Crooks says, "Come on in and set a while, long as you don't leave me alone, you might as well set down. (76)" Crooks is happy to have Lennie talk to him, because he is so often shunted because he is an African-American.
Another relationship in Of Mice and Men is that between Candy and his dog. Candy's dog is old and symbolizes the average old worker who is unable to keep up with the workload. Carlson said, "He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good to himself. Why'n't you shoot him, Candy? (44)" Candy doesn't think this is a good idea, but once Slim agrees with Carlson, Candy remorsefully consents. Later in the novel, when Candy is talking to George, he regrets not doing it himself. "I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog. (61)" Candy was very connected to his dog, and decided, in retrospect, that letting Carlson shoot it was a bad idea. He figured that since he was so close to the dog, it just would have made so much more sense of he shot it himself.
Curley and his wife were also had an important relationship to the story. Candy said, "you seen that glove on his left hand? [...] Well, that glove's fulla Vaseline. [...] Curley says he's keepin' that hand soft for his wife. (27)" She has "the eye," as Candy puts it, for most of the other workers on the ranch. Curley constantly seems to be looking for her and is always suspicious of everyone. His wife commonly comes into the bunk house, claiming that she just wants to chat. Everybody wants her to leave, because none of them want any trouble with Curley.
Curley has trouble being in any kind of relationship with anyone. George warns Lennie not to even talk to him. "You keep away from Curley, Lennie. [...] Don't let him pull you in - but - if the son-of-a-bitch socks you - let 'im have it. (30)" Curley came into the bunkhouse looking for his wife at one point in the novel, and Lennie was smiling at something, but Curley thought he was laughing at him. He started picking a fight, and Lennie just let Curley hit him, until he heard George tell him to fight back. Lennie then proceeded to crush Curley's hand in his own.
Relationships play a big role in Of Mice and Men. The bond between George and Lennie is unlike any other, and is the most important in the story. There are other important relationships through out the novel, such as those between Candy and his dog and Curley and his wife.