Friendship: a simple concept that can withstand the most complex of trials. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men showcases this concept brilliantly, delving deep into the lives of George Milton and Lennie Small, two itinerant workers in the Great Depression-era California. Their unyielding bond comes to life throughout the pages of the novel, reminding us of the power of friendship in the face of adversity. This captivating journey into the world of two friends navigating life together will leave you breathless, and in the end, give you an even greater appreciation for the friendships in your own life.
A Connection that Transcends Circumstance
In a story set against the harsh backdrop of the Great Depression, George and Lennie’s friendship is the light that illuminates their dim surroundings. The two men couldn’t be more different: George is a small and wily man while Lennie is a large, mentally-disabled gentle giant. Despite these differences, they form a deep bond, looking out for one another as they move from job to job, driven by a shared dream of one day owning their own piece of land.
Steinbeck uses this unique friendship to highlight the human need for companionship and connection, a theme that resonates powerfully with readers today. This powerful coupling acts as a reminder that no matter what trials we face in life, we can rely on the unwavering support of our closest friends to see us through.
The Dream that Binds Them Together
George and Lennie’s shared dream of owning their own piece of land provides a central focus for their friendship. This dream represents more than just a place to call home—it embodies their aspirations for autonomy, self-sufficiency, and ultimately, a sense of belonging. As Lennie so frequently reminds George, “we got each other, that’s what, that gives a hoot in hell about us.”
This dream represents not just a future of financial stability, but a world where George and Lennie can truly be themselves without the judgement or scorn of society. Thus, it is the shared hope for this dream that binds the two men together, giving them a reason to wake up each day and face the world with determination and perseverance.
An Unwavering Commitment to One Another
Throughout the course of the novel, George and Lennie are consistently confronted with challenges that test the strength of their friendship. From the bigotry of their fellow workers to Lennie’s inability to control his own strength, the two men navigate a world teeming with obstacles. Yet, time and again, they prove that their commitment to one another transcends these challenges.
For example, when George and Lennie are forced to leave their previous job due to a misunderstanding involving Lennie’s affection for petting soft things, George remains steadfastly committed to his friend, never once considering abandoning Lennie for an easier life. This unwavering commitment to one another is the foundation upon which their friendship is built, and it is ultimately what guides them through the darkest moments of their journey.
A Bittersweet Reminder of the Power of Friendship
Steinbeck’s haunting portrayal of George and Lennie’s friendship is brought to a heartbreaking conclusion at the end of the novel. With a lynch mob closing in, George must make the gut-wrenching decision to spare Lennie from a cruel and painful death at the hands of their pursuers. In this bittersweet moment, the ultimate sacrifice of their friendship is made, reinforcing the depth of their bond and the power of friendship in even the most dire of circumstances.
A Timeless Tale of Friendship and Hope
To read Of Mice and Men is to witness the extraordinary power of friendship in action. George and Lennie’s journey serves as a reminder that true friendship is a force to be reckoned with—a guiding light in the darkest of times. While the novel’s setting offers a stark portrait of life during the Great Depression, the friendship between the two itinerant workers transcends this context and serves as a timeless testament to the resilience of human connection.
So, as you turn the final page of Of Mice and Men, take a moment to dwell on the power of friendship in your own life. Just as George and Lennie did, we can lean on our friends in times of need and carry them with us through the highs and lows that life invariably brings. And if you’re interested in exploring more of Steinbeck’s work, be sure to check out our analysis of The Grapes of Wrath, another powerful novel that delves into the human experience during the Great Depression.