“”What you want of a dead mouse, anyways?”
“I could pet it with my thumb while we walked along,” said Lennie.”
This is important in the characterisation of Lennie. His fondness for soft things leads him to carrying a dead mouse. It is important symbolism here that we associated Lennie with something small, fragile, soft and, ultimately, dead.
“God, you’re a lot of trouble,” said George. “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl.”
This is important to the characterization of George. Outwardly, he resents Lennie’s being “on my tail”, saying that he dreams of a different kind of life. But we know this is not true. It is interesting that George wishes he could “have a girl”, suggesting that he can’t if he is with Lennie; is this foreshadowing?
“You jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing. If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are, we won’t get no job, but if he sees ya work before he hears ya talk, we’re set.”
The colloquial language reveals that George and Lennie are workers; calling Lennie a “crazy bastard” is not meant with any hurt; it is simply how working men of that time spoke. In terms of characterisation, it reveals George’s cleverness, that he tries to hide Lennie’s disability in order to secure work for them both.
“Lennie looked sadly up at him. “They was so little,” he said apologetically. “I’d pet ‘em, and pretty soon they bit my fingers and I pinched their heads a little and then they was dead—because they was so little. I wish’t we’d get the rabbits pretty soon, George. They ain’t so little.”
There is longing in Lennie’s voice here. He knows that he keeps killing the mice, but he cannot help himself. He wishes for the rabbits as they would be bigger and he would not risk killing them. Again, there is foreshadowing here: Lennie cannot help his strength, and it leads to death.
“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.”
This is the unfortunate reality of itinerant workers in this period. George highlights the theme of loneliness, which is central to the novel. This picture, painted by George, contrasts with the vivid, beautiful dream of the farm Lennie and he share.
“Lennie—if you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an’ hide in the brush… Hide in the brush till I come for you.”
Clear foreshadowing. The understanding that Lennie can’t help his own strength, the incident in Weed, and this instruction to flee the ranch if he gets in trouble, confirms to the reader that Lennie is doomed to do something wrong.
“Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly. He pushed himself back, drew up his knees, embraced them, looked over to George to see whether he had it just right. He pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes, the way George’s hat was.”
This is interesting in terms of characterisation. Lennie is so keen to impress George that he imitates his behaviour. Whatever Lennie’s faults are, he only wants to impress George, like a child seeking an adult’s approval.