What we can learn from Lennie in “Of Mice And Men”

The lesson we can all learn from “Of Mice and Men” is that if we all have a little Lennie inside of us then we can make “true friendships” like mentioned in “Friendship in an Age of Economics” written by Todd May. In the book, Lennie is a kind misunderstood person, the only person that even somewhat understands Lennie is George “he don’t mean no harm” and knows that

Lennie is a good person who cannot control himself. Lennie is also misunderstood in the way that he harms people and animals without meaning to “the one who loved his mouse so much that he petted it to death (Benje Williams).”, he does not mean to hurt these animals but he loves them so much that he does hurt them because he is ignorant of his size.

While the ignorance of his size may not be may not be applicable to most situations and relationships, we can all learn something from this. Lennie’s ignorance is part of what makes him so loving, his ignorance makes him see the best in people and to not judge them based on appearance and race like with Crooks, like the other men do, and even Candy who is disabled and Lennie doesn’t care. Lennie does not judge these people because he is ignorant to what the other men do and does not share the prejudice that the other men believe in. It would be very easy however for him to be manipulated into being racist and it is only because George is also not racist that Lennie is not.

But George not being racist is also because he is friends with Lennie. Lennie’s innocence has definitely rubbed off on George and their friendship has stopped George from becoming like the other men on the ranch who have prejudice.

These mens relationship have made both of them better people. Lennies in the way that he has someone to make sure he stays on the right path and does not become and George in the way that their friendship stops him from falling into the ruts the other men on the ranch have fallen into, the rut of coming “to a ranch an’ working up a stake and then going inta town and blowing up their stake (Steinbeck 13).”, and the rut of having prejudice.

If everybody had a little more innocence and ignorance in the way that they didn’t care about race and disablities like Lennie, it would be easier to build these relationships. It would not be good for everybody to have the same level of innocence and ignorance as Lennie because it would be easy to be manipulated and you would be very dependent on other people.

These attributes that Lenny has make him a good person as he is not able to judge people based on their appearance and race and disabilities. Lenny is a person that Aristotle would describe as being able to have a true friendship. While I don’t agree with Aristotle thinking that you have to be a person with a true heart to have true friendship, these qualities certainly help.

True friendship is a friendship that helps people mutually and not in a way that nets monetary gain but in the way of companionship. Lennie and George’s relationship is what stops them from becoming worse people because they both keep eachother on the right path.

Everybody needs to have a friend like this and it would be easier to make true friendships if everybody were more like Lennie. Not everybody has to have a relationship like Lennie and George in which one is a kind of caretaker to the other. But we should all have a person that keeps us grounded, humble, kind, and innocent. Learning from Lennies ignorance of others’ appearances and how they are treated because of those things is something that everybody can learn from.

We should not be ignorant like Lenny but we should learn from Lennies ignorance’s in the way that he doesn’t care about the race or appearance or disabilities of a person. If everybody acted more like Lennie to people they would have more relationships like what George and Lennie have.

There is another thing that unites George and Lennie though, and that is a shared dream, even if it doesn’t come to fruition, it’s something that unites them. Friendships that have shared goals and dreams like this are often “true friendships”, “Shared experience, not just common amusement or advancement, is the ground of friendship (Todd May).”, while George and Lenny do also have many shared experiences, their dream is a big thing that unites them.

And their dream isn’t just about “living off the fatta’ the land”, or about owning a farm and tending to rabbits. Their dream is the desire for something more and better than just going from ranch to ranch looking for work. If more people who had common dreams and common experiences became friends, there would be more “true friendships’’ in the world, not people just looking for something from one another.

Lennie and George’s friendship is not an entrepreneurial one or a consumer one because even though they both gain something from it, they are united by something. This thing that unites them is very important to a “true friendship” because it stops them from having an entrepreneurial or consumer relationship.

I would agree with Todd May and disagree with Aristotle in the way that you do not need to be a completely noble or righteous person to have “true friendship” but you need a common goal or dream or experience to unite you. We can all learn from Lennie and Georges relationship in many ways. And we can learn from Lennie in many ways.

Their relationship has many qualities that we need to learn from to build relationships like these for ourselves. And if we learn from what Lennie does in the way that he is ignorant to things like race and disabilities and how he does not care about them we can make it easier for ourselves to make these friendships.

Primary Source was the novel “Of Mice And Men” by John Steinbeck

Secondary Sources:

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