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How important are they in the novel?
They play an integral play in the novel portraying many of the themes in the novel and
demonstrating Steinbeck's key ideas throughout the novella. From the first sentence in the novella
'a few miles south of Soledad'. This illustrates one of the main key themes running throughout the
novel and this is only apparent from the translation of 'Soledad' meaning loneliness and this depicts
this is a key idea that Steinbeck wants to portray throughout the novel. They are also the
stereotypical ranch workers of the 1930's and Steinbeck uses them to emphasise the hardship
time of the great depression.
How are they described at first?
There is immediate contrasts right from the first description with their facial features connotes the
obvious contrast. George: 'restless eyes', 'sharp, strong features' it portrays with the restless eyes
how he is always on the look out and making sure that everything is safe. When Lennie's description
is indicated the reader notices that the 'restless eyes' are due to Lennie's childlike behaviour and so
George has to watch his every move to make sure no trouble occurs. However this foreshadows that
possibly with George constantly keeping an eye on him, one day George is going to get tired/bored
and he will forget to look after Lennie and something will happen. Another contrast is their reactions
to the water. George is displayed as careful and cautious as he 'drank from his hand' to make sure
the water was safe. However the contrast with Lennie is that he takes 'long gulps' and 'snorting' this
highlights that Lennie only does things for pleasure and is unaware of the consequences of the
In the first section they are described in a father and son figure. 'Lennie you gonna be sick like you
was last night'. This creates the relationship between the pair with George acting like the concerned
parent. Also it reminds the reader of Lennie's incapability of remembering information that has
probably happened many times before. This probably agitates George because he has to repeat.
What are the readers first impressions of George and Lennie's relationship?
Their relationship is very special because it is not heard of two migrant workers travelling together.
Even the boss has his suspicions when he says 'I never seen one guy take so much trouble for
another guy'. He also doesn't expect that it is friendship he immediately thinks that George is 'takin'
his pay away from him' and not because George has to look after Lennie. It points out the
importance and how special George and Lennie's relationship is.
George seems to get annoyed with Lennie's behaviour as sometimes George responds with adverbs
such as 'sharply'. However seems to feel guilty as Lennie doesn't know the difference between what
is right and wrong. However he tries to care for Lennie but with Lennie's constant childish behaviour
it is more noticable that George craves maturity.
The validation of the father figure to Lennie is defined as George seems to constantly giving Lennie
imperatives such as 'remember' and constantly to try and reinforce the idea that Lennie is incapable
of doing it alone. During the novella it is also pointed out that George resents being the father figure
and Steinbeck reveals this by George constantly using negative vocabulary such as calling him a
'crazy bastard' and it highlights that George feels a duty from Aunt Clara to care for Lennie.
What is Steinbeck trying to convey with their relationship?
Steinbeck conveys the relationship clearly to highlight the key themes to the reader using the
main characters in the novella. The main theme illustrated using George and Lennie is the theme
of loneliness with Soledad being a main hint of their special relationship. Another theme
associated with them is the harshness of the conditions for the migrant workers. Segregation is
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Lennie rather than George when Lennie is segregated out from going to
Suzy's because he won't understand what is going on. This provides a break for George providing
him with some maturity that he craved for and to understand what it would like to be alone....read more