Friendship is one of the most important things in life. This is often if not almost always also displayed in books. This is also the case in Mice and Men. The friendship between George and Lennie is strange but very close. George is the smaller man, who is smart and works hard, while Lennie is a very large and strong man who is mentally deficient. Lennie is constantly getting himself and George, into trouble because he doesn’t understand his own strength or says something that he maybe shouldn’t have. Despite all the trouble that Lennie has put George through, it is clearly visible that George cares very deeply for Lennie and that they have been friends for many years.
George and Lennie are migrant ranch workers. They met one day when George was talking to his friends and told Lennie to jump off of a bridge that they were both on. Since Lennie is mentally challenged he attempted this brainless act and as a result of it almost drowned. George feeling great sympathy for Lennie thought of it as an obligation to be friends with Lennie to pay him back. They travel around California looking for a new job because Lennie did something that caused them to have to leave their old job at a ranch. At the start of the book they are on their way to a new ranch where they hope to find work. This is when we get to know George and Lennie. It’s immediately very clear that George cares for Lennie very much. Even though Lennie does many weird things that George is clearly quite bothered about. For example he told Lennie not to drink out of the dirty pond because he was concerned for his health and safety.
A little further in the story we learn that George has promised to Lennie’s aunt to watch over him and take care of him. He takes this obviously very serious. They form a good team together. Lennie protects George physically and George protects and helps Lennie mentally. George plans Lennie’s life, as well as his own and tries to make him as happy as possible, by retelling his dream of owning his own land with rabbits and a berry patch. Lennie loves this, because rabbits are his favorite animals.
Just before they arrive at the new ranch, reminds Lennie what they are doing again (Lennie has a lot of trouble remembering things) and tells him explicitly not to talk and to let George do all the talking. He does this to protect him and also make sure that he doesn’t say or do anything that could cost them this opportunity.
All goes well and they get accepted to work on the ranch. After a little while of working there Lennie does something that ultimately leads to his death. Lennie is sitting in the barn, petting a dead puppy. He has accidentally killed the dog through stroking it too hard and is worried that George will find out so he tries to hide it under some straw.
Curley’s wife (Curley is the son of the ranch owner) walks in and tries to talk to Lennie. After a while he opens up to her and tells him that he likes to pet soft things. She says that she understands and offers him her hair to stroke, which he does. However he strokes it too hard and she panics and shouts. Lennie is worried that he will get in trouble so he covers her mouth with his hand and starts to shake her around. He breaks her neck and then leaves knowing that he did something wrong.
Candy finds the body and goes to tell George. George immediately suspects that it was Lennie and predicts that Curley will want to kill Lennie. Candy goes to tell the others and Curley demands that Lennie be found and killed. George gets to him first, tells him to take of his hat and look and the river and while telling him about their farm with the rabbits one last time he shoots him in the head.
Some might think that this is a terrible thing to do. I think this is precisely what makes their friendship so special. George doesn’t under any circumstance want Lennie to get hurt and so he ends his life in the least painful way to spare him from his fate in the hands of Curley.