The relationship between Lennie and George is very close throughout the book. ‘Of Mice and Men’ is set in the 1930s depression years in America. This means that their relationship was under a lot of strain. It was unusual in those times to be able to sustain friendships because life was all about living for the moment after America’s great depression. They are in a place called the Salinas River near Soledad.
John Steinbeck begins the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ with a picturesque description of the location where the reader is first introduced to the characters of George Milton and Lennie Small. The opening section of the book lends itself to a feeling of peacefulness. However the scene is set only “a few miles south of Soledad” – a name that is Spanish for “loneliness”, which is repeated throughout the book and is also touched upon between the two main characters. George tolerates Lennie’s company – in part – because without the other man, he would be alone. In turn, Lennie loyally follows George, the one friend he has. Without each other, they have no one. As he introduces the two characters, Steinbeck instantly notes the difference in both the appearance and attitude of the characters. Within the novel, even when the characters reach an opening that should allow them to walk together, one stays ahead of the other. This is George, who is the obvious leader. George “was small and quick, dark of face with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined”. In comparison, Lennie – the follower – was “a huge man, shapeless of face, with large pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders and he walked heavily”. These positions, as leader and follower, are accepted in mutual understanding.