In the novella, John Steinbeck conveys the theme of friendship very genuinely. He shows how George and Lennie have a unique friendship, how the other men covet companionship, how the circumstances of the time make it hard to possess friendship, and how companionship is so fundamental.
To begin with, George and Lennie have a very sui generis friendship. Most migrant are lonely individuals and don’t have close relationships with other people. On the other hand, George and Lennie are close friends and they travel the country looking for employment as migrant workers. This makes their friendship unique, since most migrant workers don’t have friends. They also rely on each other for protection and company. George who is dwarfish sometimes needs Lennie for protection, and Lennie depends on George for direction and decisions. During the time when they camp in the clearing Lennie asks George to state for him the conditions of their relationship and their dream for the future. At first George takes note of the other migrant workers, who are very lonely and have no friends. They belong nowhere and have no family. They could “work up a stake” on one ranch, but then go into town and spend it all. After this, they would have to start from scratch at a different ranch with nothing to anticipate. However, with Lennie and George, things are different. George says, “With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.” (Page 115) The only reason they have a future is because they care about each other, this is why have such an exceptional and remarkable relationship.
Subsequently, other men also have an inclination for companionship. As Curley says, “A guy needs somebody to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.” (Page 80) Throughout the book some characters make it very obvious that they have an aspiration for friendship. As an example, Crooks is lonely because he’s African-American and crippled. So even though at first he’s reluctant to let Lennie into his room, his yearning for companionship and the feeling that Lennie isn’t going to insult him triumphs over his initial thoughts and he allows Lennie to join him. Furthermore, Curley’s Wife is the only female on the ranch and she isn’t allowed to talk to any of the men since her husband gets exceedingly jealous. She knows that Lennie isn’t going to judge her so she reveals her loneliness and isolation to him. “Why can’t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely… I get lonely… You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?” (Page 98) All Curley’s wife wants is friendship, so she talks to Lennie even though he probably can’t fully comprehend everything she’s telling him. Truthfully, everyone wants companionship, especially George and Lennie’s noteworthy relationship.
In addition, the circumstances of the time make it hard to have friendship. This novella takes place during the great depression, and during that time money was hard to come by. When Lennie and George were trying to survive they were probably more focused on providing for their basic needs than their friendship. Their companionship would have made it especially hard on George because he had to provide for both of them. Lennie probably wouldn’t be able to get a job without George since he is inarticulate.
Furthermore, friendships and companionships are very essential. To start with, everyone wants to connect with other people and feel loved. As humans we need that to thrive in life. During one part of the novella Crooks says, “George can tell you screwy things, and it don’t matter It’s just the talking. It’s just bein’ with another guy. That’s all.” (Page ) Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what is being talked about, just that people are making a connection. Friends can provide comfort and support, and they help people feel connected because they give them a sincere sense of belonging and identity. Similarly, people sometimes need friends just to give them a self-esteem boost. At some point, everyone needs a friend to help motivate and expand their feeling of self-worth. Friends value their presence and make them feel wanted. By the same token, a huge benefit of friendship is the fact that people won’t be lonely. In Of Mice and Men George says, “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake and then they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.” (Page ) Friends can give people that anti-lonesome remedy and grant them something to look forward to. Additionally, having lots of friends means sharing different kinds of experiences. Learning about varying stories can help people with personal growth. It might might give them the opportunity to change themselves for a better outcome.