Of Mice and Men
In What Ways is George Shown To Change Throughout the Course of the Novel? In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, George, one of the main characters, showed significant growth from beginning to end. At the start of the novel he had a different way of living and outlook on life than he did towards the end. At the start of the novel he was an idealist, and had been motivated, antisocial, short tempered, and much more. George started this novel with a dream of living an ideal life with Lennie.
“We’re gonna live off the fatta the land,” he’d say. He wanted to go somewhere off the grid with Lennie so that they’d both be safe and not have to worry about other people or Lennie getting in trouble. He wants to escape the harshness of the world that the two live in so that they can both be safe and happy. “I’d be bringin’ in my own crops ‘stead of doing all the work and not getting what comes outta the ground,” he hopes to leave the life of the migrant worker and own his own ranch and be his own boss.
As the novel goes on he realises that any of this is probably not possible. No matter how much he saves up he will never be able to get enough money to buy and sustain his dream farm and Lennie is going to keep getting in trouble. George understands that he can’t hide Lennie from the world forever and that the natural order of things is that the strong pick off the weak, and he will eventually have to let Lennie go. This motivates him to seize reality, meaning he had to kill Lennie, which itself was a sign of tremendous growth in himself.
Killing Lennie had many effects on George; one of them being that he became one of the men he’d tell Lennie stories about. George believed that he and Lennie were not like the other migrant workers – travelling alone and spending all their earning on a whim. When George would tell these stories Lennie would make sure George remembered that they were unlike those men, “cause [he] got [George] and [George] got [him]. ” This set George apart from those men that he pitied at the beginning of the story.
In the end though, George learned that he was exactly like them, he no longer had anything to look forward to except for his next pay check. Another effect that killing Lennie had on George was that with the death of Lennie not only came the death of their joint dream, but the loss of motivation and purpose for George. At the beginning of the book George looked out for Lennie and made sure that they could go on towards their goal. This is shown where at the beginning on their first night camping, George “took out two spoons from his side pocket and passed one of them to Lennie.
This shows that Lennie cannot take care of himself and that George had to be the responsible one and take care of everything for the two of them, holding their work papers, and even their own plates and cutlery. The reason that George kept his head down ad saved his money was so he could achieve the dream of the ranch with Lennie. Otherwise he “could take [his] fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever [he] want[s]. ” Without Lennie he has half the expenses and no need to save his money – he has much more freedom now and can go with the flow. He’s no longer tied down and has so many more opportunities.
He can take any job he wants in whatever city, eat what he wants, and do what he wants with the money. Having Lennie around was the same as taking a small child with him everywhere and hindered him in many ways. George also started off as a bit antisocial and standoff-ish. He would stick to Lennie mainly and play solitaire rather than fully engaging in conversation with the other workers. Towards the end of the novel he would talk to the other men as they would compete or he would gather around with them and gossip. “You wouldn’ tell? No, course you wouldn’” He starts confiding in other people like Slim and Candy.
He starts to have the social life that he once longed for – He would leave Lennie and go with “all the boys…into town” He started to be more independent from Lennie at these points. All this came to and end though when Lennie killed Curley’s wife, because he then needed to move on. Although, it came to where some of the other men were friendly and would go so far as to console George after he shot Lennie. Although George was always Lennie’s paternal/fraternal figure, Lennie’s immense size would protect George physically, from harm that could befall him.
At the end of the novel it turned into where George had to protect Lennie from being shot by Curley – which he did in the way that he killed Lennie himself – as if it were a mercy killing. “You hadda, George. I sear you hadda. ” If George didn’t want his friend to suffer he had to protect him and his dignity by shooting Lennie himself – this showed tremendous growth in it’s own way. One very large development in George is in the way he interacted with Lennie. He had once admitted to Slim that he has “beat the hell out of him. ” Of course, now that they travel together George and Lennie get along with much more ease.
One thing though, he still had a very short fuse when it came to Lennie. He would yell at him for forgetting or acting like a child, or even when he couldn’t help. When it came down to it, George was much more calm and collected. He didn’t blow up when he saw that Lennie had killed Curley’s wife; instead his fraternal instincts kicked in and he tried to think of how he could help Lennie –and when he caught up with Lennie he didn’t reprimand him or yell at him. All in all, the most noticeable, but probably overlooked, change is the fact that he no longer has a dream.
So much of his life had depended on his and Lennie’s dream. The dream was a constant topic of conversation between him and Lennie (and eventually Candy as well). The stories and the planning all gone to waste because he had given up on his dream. That is the most noticeable difference. The abandonment of this fantasy changed everything and was at the heart of most of the developments seen in his character. There were multiple changes in George’s character, some blindingly obvious and some that were fairly subtle. All these changes had the same root – George’s choice to abandon his dream with Lennie and shoot his friend.