Characters’ Attitudes in Of Mice and Men
In this article you will find essay about how characters’ attitudes are presented in American classic ‘Of Mice and Men’.
Explore the way characters’ attitudes are presented in ‘Of Mice and Men’
“Of Mice and Men” is a book written by author John Steinbeck. This book was published in 1937 and it tells a story about adventures of two main characters Lennie Small – who is mentally challenged and George Milton who looks after him. Two men travel from place to place in search of job opportunities in California. In this assignment I will be exploring the ways that characters’ attitudes are presented in this novella. I will focus on three main characters which are: George, Lennie and Curley.
I will start by analysing George’s attitude towards Lennie. They are always together as George tries not to leave Lennie alone, because of his childlike decisions that can and usually does put him or both of them into trouble. George’s attitude is presented as caring character towards Lennie and this can be seen by simple things as taking care for his wellbeing. In the near beginning of the story Lennie drinks water from green pool which is probably not safe to drink and George reacts to this straight away – he leans over and shook Lennie by his shoulder and says “I ain’t sure it’s good water, Looks kinda scummy.” George is warning Lennie not to drink water from the pool, because he understands that it might not be safe and can make him ill, however Lennie does not, therefore George has to take care of him. This kind of attitude could be related to parental when parent takes care of his child, even though Lennie is not a child, but he acts and behaves in this kind of way. George’s care is not always nice and sometimes even forceful, the reason for this is that sometimes Lennie’s decisions get them both into quite serious troubles and George believes that Lennie is the reason why he does not live a happy life like he would want to live. He clearly states this in beginning of the story at a fireplace by saying, “God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cat house all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool.” I believe that this George’s statement was quite harsh, but he was completely honest with Lennie and he finishes it by saying that instead of all this he mentioned he got Lennie, “I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time. An’ that ain’t the worst. You get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out.” Even though he was so harsh with Lennie, I believe that he cares so much about him that he still keeps taking care of Lennie instead of leaving him and finding himself work. I am not sure whether it is due to the fact that he made a promise to Lennie’s aunt Clara or he just feels responsible for him, because they are friends, but he puts all efforts he can for Lennie to be safe and sound.
As George is adult like – Lennie on the other hand displays quite childlike behaviour and it is one of the causes that makes George angry. The childish behaviour is probably triggered by the mental condition that Lennie has, it is easily noticeable when he talks about things like going to live alone and finding a cave after George emotions explode and hurt Lennie’s feelings, “Well, I could. I could go off in the hills there. Some place I’d find a cave.” And then when he gets emotional response from George, he understands his advantage and abuses it to probably get even more emotional response by saying, “If you don’t want me, you only jus’ got to say so, and I’ll go off in those hills right there- right up in those hills and live by myself. An’ I won’t get no mice stole from me.” This shows to me that Lennie is grown man, but he is very sensitive and there is plenty of evidence in the story that proves this. Even though Lennie tried to challenge Georges parental position by saying I will leave you, just say a word, but he probably understands himself that he would have problem surviving on his own, that’s why he always listens to George. Whatever Lennie is told he complies even if he does not want to, for example when George asked him to drop dead mice, Lennie refused and lied that he has none, but George done what was right anyway – ” ‘Awright,’ he said brusquely. ‘Gi’me that mouse!’ But Lennie made an elaborate pantomime of innocence. ‘What mouse, George? I ain’t got no mouse.’” So I think that even sometimes Lennie does not want to do what he is told by George, but all the instructions by George are to keep him safe from trouble and he should listen to them as Lennie is not able to handle some situations on his own.
The last character that I want to highlight from the novella is Curley. He is related with George and Lennie, because he is son of the boss of a ranch that they found a job at. Because Curley used to be a boxer, his attitude is presented to be quite aggressive considering the sport he was participating in. Curley feels as authoritative person in a ranch and well this is true as he is son of the ranch owner, but when he met George and Lennie he felt internal anger, because Lennie was bigger and taller than him. This is pointed out in several places in the text when Lennie was instructed not to talk due to his inability to make himself look mature and Curley was prompting him to talk, “Curley stepped gingerly close to him. ‘You the new guys the old man was waitin’ for?’” and even though George answers his question, Curley specifically wants an answer from Lennie and says, “Let the big guy talk.” Curley’s attitude here is clearly aggressive and challenging Lennie for some kind of response. What I believe Curley is doing is testing Lennie whether he will say anything back and challenge his authoritative position. By the fact that he even had his hands closed into fists he was probably preparing for aggressive response back and the he would have shown who the boss here is by using violence. Because Curley didn’t get aggressive response, his position was not challenged and he says, “Well, nex’ time you answer when you’re spoke to.” He turned toward the door and walked out, and his elbows were still bent out a little.” From the time he met Lennie he immediately started to develop dislike against him.
In this assessment I have explored how the poet represents attitude of three different characters of the story by showing how these characters interacted and behaved with one another, what emotional response it triggered and what was consequence, because of that. It seems that all characters I have pointed out have very different personalities and attitudes. But George and Lennie are closely related and they are the main characters highlighted by the author. And I think that all the events and responses that were triggered was a direct result of Lennie and George traveling together that affected their attitudes and changed their lives completely to a tragic ending.