Thick as Blood
George stood up and threw the mouse as far as he could into the darkening brush, and then he stepped to the pool and washed his hands. “ You crazy fool. Don’t you think I could see your feet was wet where you went acrost the river to get it?” He heard Lennie’s whimpering cry and wheeled about. “ Blubberin’ like a baby! Jesus Christ! A big guy like you.” Lennie’s lip quivered and tears started in his eyes. “ Aw, Lennie!” George put his hand on Lennie’s shoulder. “ I ain’t takin’ it away jus’ for meanness. That mouse ain’t fresh, Lennie; and besides, you’ve broke it pettin’ it. You get another mouse that’s fresh and I’ll let you keep it a little while” (Steinbeck 6).
The complex relationship of George and Lennie is among the pivotal aspect of John Steinbeck’s famous novel ‘ Of Mice and Men.’ Though the two of them are in no way related by blood, George’s treatment of Lennie is worthy of being analyzed as it is deeply rooted in the realization of his character. The main protagonists of the novel and the dynamics of their relationship is an interesting demonstration of what is nothing less than love despite the idiosyncrasies of each, particularly of Lennie’s dimwittedness. Throughout the novel we see that George always sticks out for him and though his treatment may at times be overbearing and a little rough, there are those tender moments between them that cannot deny how each is willing to sacrifice even his life for the other.
The passage, set in the early pages of the book, set the mood of the nature of the relationship of George and Lennie. Here, we see George as an authoritative figure that was able to grapple from Lennie the dead mouse that he had been petting. Somewhat angered by the foolishness of Lennie in petting the dead mouse that died in his congesting grip, George put his foot down and ordered Lennie to give up the rodent. Calling the latter a ‘ crazy fool,’ he threw it in such a way that Lennie will no longer be able to retrieve it. George is automatically perceived to the smart one between the two of them and the voice of them both. He is the one in charge not only of his life but also of the well-being of his companion.
Upon the disposal of his pet, we are now introduced to the character of Lennie as a child-like figure in grown man’s body. His reaction, tearing up at the loss of a mouse, brings forth the notion that is not ‘ normal’ in a sense that his intelligence is obviously not within the normal standard. George’s immediate reaction to the crying is to shame Lennie into stopping since he is a big man, perhaps bigger than George himself. But then George instantaneously changed his harsh reaction by clarifying the logic of why he demanded to toss the mouse. He explained that it is not proper or sanitary to be holding a dead mouse that long. Then he transforms into an almost father-like figure by promising to let him take care of another mouse as long as it’s not dead and only for a little while.
In the subsequent dialogues, George directly addressed his treatment of Lennie, apologizing for being mean. “ First chance I get I’ll give you a pup. Maybe you wouldn’t kill it. That’d better than mice. And you could pet it harder” (Steinbeck 7). The subject of allowing Lennie a pet later on transformed into a rabbit. This reinforces George’s attitude to be somewhat of a father delighting his child with a promise. It is almost no different from a scene between a father and his young child. It cannot be helped that there will be queries on a motive why George is willing to take care of Lennie without getting anything in return. Their new boss even speculated that he is getting a portion of Lennie’s pay for his own on which George claimed that he was a cousin and that he promised the old lady to look after him even though she is no longer around (Steinbeck 12).
Slim makes a good point when he said that Lennie is a nice guy though he is a simpleton, saying “ Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus’ works the other way around” (Steinbeck 21). This is a very apt commentary. A person may be the smartest among the bunch but it does not necessarily translate that he is a kindhearted person. In the same way that someone may be dull but he could be the most compassionate person. There are moment when in of themselves, the other men cannot help but be taken aback by Lennie’s sincerity and credulity. This is precisely the character of Lennie, but where other people take advantage of him and makes fun of him, George was able to see through this weakness and serve as the crutches to help him not to stumble. In a way, he is smart enough for the both of them.
Then again he could not constantly be there to guide Lennie like a father or to show him the proper way to do things like a brother. His brute force far exceeded his capacity to handle it. Without wanting to disappoint and by trying as hard as he could to live by George’s terms, Lennie lost control and caused an event that he neither wanted nor understood. But in the end it was all too much to bear for one man. It was better to be killed out of love than out of anger. “ The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again” (Steinbeck 52). It was an act of kindness that reverberated of love and regret but there was nothing else that could be done for the die had been cast.
Steinbeck, John. “ Of Mice and Men.” shipk12. org (1965). PDF file.