Of Mice and Men has many themes presented by Steinbeck, one of which is about friendship. The novella shows the relationship between the protagonists, George and Lennie, and showing how they try to achieve the American Dream by working together. This is in contrast to many of the other characters who are alone by themselves which seems to be the norm at the time of the Great Depression. The reader is able to look at how the need to have a companion is portrayed by Steinbeck, especially during the harsh economic times that the story is set in.
The reliance that George and Lennie have on one another is able to emphasise on how it is only the friendship between the two of them which allows them to survive. Lennie saying ‘I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you. ’ is underlying the true reliance that both George and Lennie have for one another. Lennie also sees his friend ‘he pulled his hat down more over his eyes the way George’s hat was. ’ as a role model and sees him as guidance as to how to live his own life. George needs Lennie as much as Lennie needs George despite Lennie being the one who is mentally challenged and in need of constant supervising.
Steinbeck also uses the character Lennie to refer to how it should society should be collectively looking after the vulnerable in society rather than George having to look after him by himself. Thus the reliance of each of the main characters on one another emphasises how important the friendship is in keeping both them and the novella together. The friendship is also portrayed by Steinbeck as he is opposing the idea of people working just by themselves. “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family.
They belong no place…they ain’t got nothing to look ahead to. ” is showing what Steinbeck sees of the idea of itinerant workers being by themselves. This is despite the fact it would have much likely to be easier during the time of the Great Depression to be by yourself and have a sustinent way of life. Yet Steinbeck emphasises friendship by looking at how unhappy the people who are by themselves are. The fact that Lennie who can only understand basic ideas is able to see the migrant workers as ‘lonely’ goes to point out how a companion is needed to be able to live a happy life.
They are also said to have ‘nothing to look ahead to,’ which counters the idea that people are able to achieve the American Dream just through hard work and determination from ‘rags to riches’. As a pair they are going against the ideology of ‘every man for himself’ which is preached as w Thus George and Lennie being together can be seen to show how they are closer to achieving the dream as a result of being able to work together. They are able to share the dream between one another which makes it a serious possibility.
The circular narrative which then destroys the dream only makes it more tragic as it seems as if they had a possibility but there never was. This is what Steinbeck uses to undermine the idea of the American Dream for it is not even realistic despite co-operation. Thus due to the economic depression, Steinbeck shows that friendship is important to be able to cope through the difficult times The friendship is also important in comparing to other characters in the novella that are depicted as lonely as well as being the vulnerable in society.
Curley’s wife is seen as one of the most isolated characters ‘Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever once in a while. ’ for all she desires is attention and for people to take notice of her. The fact that she has no-one to be with is what leads her to acting in a promiscuous manner and eventually this is also a cause of her death. Thus the strive to be happy without a friend can be fatal. Crooks is also a person who strives for friendship, ‘S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ’cause you was black. ’ but it is unable to get it because of his colour.
This is also emphasises the oppressive nature of society at the time because Crooks is lonely for he has been segregated. Although most of the men have no true friends, they at least get to play cards and associate with others. Lennie, because of the colour of his skin and his friendship with George, cannot possibly understand Crooks’ plight. George chooses to kill Lennie at the novel’s end, realizing that Lennie could not stand the loneliness of being locked up in a prison or an asylum. This is also able to highlight the true friendship which is separated at the end which also brings an end to the novella.
Thus the need for companionship, which is shown by other characters that are victimised within society, is emphasised as other strive for what George and Lennie have. Throughout the book Steinbeck uses many characters to emphasize a message which he wants to get across to the reader. This is how the importance of being able to share a friend was vital during the 1930’s as it was the time of the Depression era and everyone always needed someone else to be with. This is what makes the true friendship between George and Lennie a key component of the novella.