George Milton is our hero, a roving farmworker who is "small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features … [with] small, strong hands, slender arms, and thin and bony nose" (1.4). But there's more to him than a smart mouth and quick brain: he may not show it much, but George is a deeply moral, good man.
Let's find out what makes him tick.
With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?
Oddly, what makes George tick is his big, dumb oaf of a friend, Lennie. But George isn't about to give Lennie one of those BFF heart necklaces you bought in Claire's in sixth grade. (Although Lennie might buy George one.) In fact, he's not very nice to Lennie at all. Take George's very first words:
"Lennie!" he said sharply. "Lennie, for God' sakes don't drink so much." (1.6)
Tender loving care? Not exactly. And check out his the way he yells at his so-called friend when they talk about ketchup:
"Well, we ain't got any … God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool… An' whatta I got … I got you! You can't keep a job and you lose me ever' job I get. Jus' keep me shovin' all over the country all the time." (1.89)
When you put it like that, it doesn't make much sense at all that George would stick with Lennie. But he has his reasons: he doesn't actually want to be staying in cathouses and pool rooms and hotels and the bottom of whisky bottles. Most ranch hands, George says, are lonely, bitter men—but not Lennie, and not him: "We got afuture. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not…