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How does Steinbeck present the relationship between George and Lennie throughout the novel Of Mice and Men?

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck presents the relationship between George and Lennie as very varying. Their relationship is very complicated as it changes all the time. He also portrays his key terms and ideas through the ways the relationship is shown, for example; friendship, isolation, and hardship. There are some small changes but some really big changes as well.

In Chapter 1 we get introduced to George and Lennie as they are walking towards the river in the brush. “They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other.” At this point, their relationship is like a hierarchy and George is of higher rank than Lennie. This quote shows us that George is the leader and he has to guide Lennie with everything he does. Even though this is the beginning of the novel, we can already see that Lennie needs help with simple things he does. Walking in a single file would be acceptable in a closed space, but Steinbeck emphasises that they are in the open to indicate that Lennie is made to walk behind George in single file. This quote also presents their relationship as a parent/child relationship, as Lennie being the child following his parent and not knowing what to do himself.

Steinbeck presents George and Lennie’s relationship as different from everyone’s around them. Their relationship is different from everyone else’s because they live in the time of the Great Depression and no one has any friends, family or anyone that cares about them. Whereas George and Lennie have a relationship and everyone finds it strange that they have a strong relationship but in reality, it’s not strong at all. George tells the other workers at the ranch “we travel together”. This quote shows us that George needs to tell the other workers that he and Lennie are friends because the other workers aren’t used to seeing people having a relationship as close as the one George and Lennie have. Steinbeck is trying to portray that at the time of the Great Depression it was very unusual to have people that care about other people. The other workers at the ranch find George and Lennie’s relationship unusual because they have never experienced a friendship and they probably never will.