Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies Analysis
danskeLaura Valentiner-Bohse ‘An exploration of friendship in Lord of the Flies and of Mice and Men’ In both Lord of the Flies by William Golding and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck evident components of friendship are persuaded throughout the storyline, particularly in Lennie and George’s friendship in Of Mice and Men and Ralph and Piggy’s friendship in Lord of the Flies. In both books the authors focus on the natural dependence human beings have on each other.
Of particular importance is the bond the characters share being outsiders, the dependence they have on one another, the respect they share, the theme of survival, the sacrifice that comes with love and the contrast in their personalities. The two books show the unique significance of the strong bond the characters share of being the outcasts. In Lord of the Flies when the boys led by the malicious character Jack turn on Ralph and Piggy ultimately leaving the two to stand together lost. This strengthens an already growing companionship between the boys to the readers, as they have no other choice than to work together.
Likewise, in of Mice and Men George reminds Lennie that it is just the two of them, up against the world when saying ‘Guys like us, that work in ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family… With us it ain’t like that’. The word ‘us’ gives readers the sense of unity between the two and when referring to ‘they’ he differentiates between the other guys and the two of them thus creating a special bond between the two of them. Another great factor of friendship within the two books is the dependence they have on each other; of course this dependence varies from each character in each book.
In Lord of the Flies it is obvious from the moment that Piggy meets Ralph he recognizes his leadership skills and so he clings on to Ralph by frantically following him in the opening scene, ‘the fat boy hung steadily at his shoulder’ in hope of surviving on the island and his desperation increases when jack start to attack him. Although it seems that Ralph doesn’t feel the same desperation as Piggy, there is still a moment when Ralph thinks, ‘what was the sensible thing to do? There was no Piggy to talk sense’ from this section the readers can assume that Ralph always depended on Piggy’s knowledge being just as great a skill as leadership.
Piggy plays a big part in Ralph’s decision-making throughout the novel. The friendship at first developed through Piggy’s reliance on Ralph. But as the group falls apart their friendship becomes unbreakable. In Of Mice and Men, Lennie depends on George greatly and can simply not survive on his own and needs George, which George pinpoints when saying ‘Jesus Christ somebody would shoot you for a coyote if you were by yourself’. When George refers to Lennie as a ‘coyote’ it exemplifies his limited human instinct, which triggers the readers to view Lennie as an incompetent character.
Lennie also lacks a general memory and sense which he shows ‘George… I ain’t got [my bus ticket]. I musta lost it. ’ Lennie doesn’t regard his mental weakness as a point of despair as he entirely relies on George which reveals his childish nature. Another aspect in these books is the role of respect. In both books respect plays a significant role in the society that the characters live in and it seems that in each friendship there’s always one character that has the upper hand and for that reason gains more respect than the other.
Through Lord of the flies Piggy shows respect for Ralph consistently by trying to prove his qualities for and example he is pleased that Ralph pays attention to him even though it’s not in the way that he would want, ‘Piggy grinned reluctantly pleased despite himself at even this much recognition’ as he respects Ralph and wants the feeling to become mutual but closer to the end Ralph begins to return that respect as it is shown in an assembly he gathered, ‘Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains.
Ralph was a specialist in thought now, and could recognize thought in another’ this connotes Ralph’s newfound respect and suggest that he sees Piggy as an equal and is adopting his way of thinking. In Of Mice and Men the respect is more one-sided as Lennie psychologically is not up to George’s level of thinking therefore resulting in George having to take care of Lennie. ‘Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly. He pushed himself back, drew up his knees, embraced them, looked over to George to see whether he had it just right’.
The fact that Lennie does this mimicry when it is just George and himself shows that he truly admires George. At the same time George is aware of Lennie’s physical capabilities and he states that Lennie is ‘strong as a bull’ Lennie physically has the capability to do hard labour, which benefits George when travelling from job to job thus gives him so level of respect for Lennie. Throughout the two books different and varying kinds of love are shown between the characters and with love comes sacrifice.
In both books readers observe the characters take great measures for their companion these acts being genuine and selfless as they can be. In Lord of the Flies although Ralph’s behaviour towards Piggy may be perceived as being quite blunt, Ralph proves his sincere respect and love for piggy when he marches over to Jack and demands Piggy’s glasses back. This shows that Ralph is willing to put himself in danger in order to get his friends glasses back, which is an act of kindness and of love.
In of Mice and Men George and Lennie demonstrates a profound love for each other in the face of society as it is made evident to the readers that usually workers travel alone. George makes the ultimate sacrifice ‘The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger… George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him’ George kills Lennie out of kindness because he knows the consequences of killing Curley’s wife for Lennie would be being lynched.
George threw the gun away distraught by his action, making the readers aware this was not an easy decision and for that reason it was out of love George decided to kill Lennie. Lastly an interesting component of these friendships are the complete contrast between the characters, as opposites attracts. Both relationships physically and psychologically differentiate from each other. In Lord of the flies Ralph and Piggy personalities instantly contrasted one another in the beginning of the book. Piggy seems clumsy by the looks of his awkwardly proportioned body.
Ralph on the other hand is representing a conventional image of a boy his age. The opening description of Piggy is ‘He was shorter than the fair boy and very fat. He came forward, searching out safe lodgments for his feet’ this instantly draws a distinction between the two as Ralph is described as refined whereas Piggy is illustrated as gawky when he’s looking for where to step and is rejected by the others when he offers his help Jack replies ‘we don’t want you’ Jack looks down on Piggy and as a leader he influences the others to do so too.
The opening scene in Of Mice and Men establishes the obvious physically differences when ‘the first man was small… Every part of him was defined… Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders’ these descriptions vividly describes to the readers George and Lennie’s appearances and certain choices of words allow the readers associates this with a personality as George is ‘defined’ indicating he is the opposite of his companion.
As Lennie is big built and so readers assume he is the physically stronger but ‘sloping shoulders’ identify he is childish with his sloppy and careless nature but also reveals the simplicity in his personality. In conclusion I believe that many factors have resulted in the characters from Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies to gain such a significantly strong friendship.
But one of the biggest components that I regard to be the most remarkable is the nature of humans in which they survive together in pairs. Both relationships depended greatly on each other through the novel because being alone they simply would not have been psychologically strong enough by themselves. Both friendships depend on each other in different ways but evidently rely on each other significantly as I have explored in various ways.