The complex relationship between the brilliant but frail George Milton and the retarded but muscular Lennie Small are the center of interest of Steinbeck’s novella. Their “loneliness,” and their “American Dream” are one of the important themes that made Steinbeck’s established the complex relationship between the two. The relationship of George and Lennie is inseparable and was revealed in the first part of the novel “because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why,” according to Lennie. Throughout the reading, Lennie put himself in trouble where George is always there to get him out, “You do bad things and I got to get you out.” It was surprising in those times to be able to keep friendships because life was all about living for the moment after America’s great depression.
In the opening section of the novel, Steinbeck desires to illustrate the relationship between George and Lennie as father and son figure. Steinbeck’s point out that they ‘walked in single file’ down the narrow path and when they came into the open, ‘one stayed behind the other’ which immediately indicates that George is dominant in the relationship and that being the case, that makes Lennie reliant on George and incapable of looking after himself. George wouldn’t let Lennie to carry his own work card because he is worried that he might lose it because he’s always absent-minded. The rhetorical question, “think I’d let you carry your own work card?” also indicates George’s annoyance with Lennie as he is always creating problems. In addition, their relationship indicates that George acts as a parental figure and Lennie is similar to a child that always have to be told, “Now, look–I’ll give him the work tickets, but you ain’t gonna say a word. You jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing.” Moreover, George’s complaint, “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl,” and Lennie’s counter complaint, “George, you want I would go away and leave you alone? I could go off in the hills and I’d find a cave,” are not really sincere. They are staged, hollow threats, like the threats of parents and children. Similarly, George’s story about how things are going to be with rabbits and vegetable garden and the fat of the land, also has a formulaic quality, like child’s bedtime story. Children (like Lennie) love to hear the same tale repeated countless times; even when they have the story memorized, they love to talk along, anticipating the major turns in the story and correcting their parents if they leave out any details. The rabbits is Lennie’s bedtime story, and while George isn’t exactly a parent to Lennie, he is nevertheless parental. George is Lennie’s guardian and in guarding Lennie, George is in effect guarding innocence itself. To quote what Lennie has said, “because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why,” to George shows a powerful and intimate relationship between the two characters. Since the death of Lennie’s Aunt Clara, George took it upon himself to take responsibility of him and his special needs. Their mutual dependence on one another what keeps George and Lennie together.
George dreams of one day saving enough money to buy his own farm and being his own boss. Unluckily, Lennie got in trouble which they ended up running away from Weed. Despite of the circumstances in the depression, George ran away with Lennie even though he wanted to survive the depression and have his own farm. Naturally, Lennie is a part of George’s dream. But George knows that he wouldn’t be able to reach his dream without Lennie’s help, as he is muscular. This makes it easier for George to gain a job if they travel together. George knows, too, that if the relationship breaks, so does the dream. However, George does have a soft spot for Lennie, and would hate the thought of them not being together, “When I think of the swell time I could have without you, I go nuts. I never get no peace.” Slim notes that it is odd that George and Lennie travel together. He says this because most workers live alone, traveling from job to job. Slim says, “You know how the hands are, they just come in and get their bunk and work a month, and then they quit and go out alone.” This shows what a lonely life a traveling ranch hand can be. This is one of the reasons George and Lennie stay together, to avoid being alone. In spite of that, Lennie does not realise the strength he possesses, something which occurs in increasing degrees of danger and tension throughout the novel. George sticks with Lennie even though he knows he causes trouble.
His downfalls and the way his reliance on George is much more obvious to the reader. Their dependence on the company of each other sets them apart from everyone else and it is this connection that binds their relationship together in such a way that only death can separate it.
They ran away from trouble in Weed and yet Lennie keeps getting in trouble and George keeps getting him out. George needs Lennie just as much as Lennie needs him, which is evident at the end of the novel. When George kills Lennie, he also kills the relationship, which results in the death of the dream within himself. From anger and remorse to a close friendship, Steinbeck portrays many different aspects to Lennie and George’s relationship. It is the main theme in this novel and stands out as a clear point the author is trying to make. Their dream gives the reader and image of peacefulness between the two. They know that they wouldn’t be able to achieve this without each other, Lennie needs George to plan the dream and George needs Lennie to keep it alive. In the end, the obstacles that Lennie has created are so terrible that even George realises he has to bring the relationship and the dream to an end, not just for his own well-being but also to protect Lennie from more horrifying consequences. After shooting Lennie you still feel that George has done the right thing and that he has done it for Lennie, not for himself. Three of the key points to their relationship are being supportive for each other, always sticking together and loving each other in a caring way. Without these, their friendship wouldn’t be strong and the reader wouldn’t get such a potent view on why they need each other.