Every person needs a friend or friends. A friend is that honest, empathetic, sympathetic, compassionate and understanding person with whom one shares a mutual relationship (Hall 902). True friends are expected to be there for each other irrespective of their circumstances. In most cases, friends share common interests, demographics, occupations, and backgrounds. Friendship is an interpersonal bond with a friend. It is a kind of endearment which allows individuals to be loyal, tender and share joyful experiences, trials and tribulations, without the fear of judgment and abandonment (Westerink 98). One of the greatest gifts in life is friendship. It offers a sense of security and belonging. True friendship should not be taken for granted since it is hard to find (Hall 897). In his text, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck illustrates the tenets of true friendship. The text exemplifies the fact that true friendship can be difficult and complicated. It requires a lot of sacrifices, commitment, and mutual trust. The main characters in the text, George and Lennie are differently endowed, but great friends. Lennie is physically powerful but mentally disabled while George is well and seems to control the friendship. They are both immigrant ranch workers. At times, George feels as if Lennie is a burden that he has to carry around, and bullies him, but this does not make him abandon him. However, they still stick to each other and share a dream. Steinbeck reveals, in this text, what true friendship entails. This essay will apply the ideas in Steinbeck's text to argue that true friendship is possible. Although true friendship is difficult to find, it is possible to achieve and sustain it.
To begin with, there is no human being who is perfect. Every person has weaknesses. It is during the manifestation of such weaknesses that one is able to differentiate between a true friend and a pretender. A true friend is always caring and devoted to their friends while a pretender is only available during celebratory moments (Hall 904). This means that for one to qualify as a friend, they have to be caring irrespective of their situation or the difficulties they are going through. In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, the friendship between George and Lennie is portrayed as one cumbered with a load of care. Although George is smart, Lennie is disabled and rather irrational. George has to bear the responsibility of taking care of Lennie. At times, he feels so confused about this burden that he bullies Lennie. In the process, they often argue. The arguments make Lennie become so emotional that he threatens to leave. He tells George that if he does not want him, he can go off in the hills an find a cave; that he can disappear at any time (Steinbeck 13). This makes George feel so guilty that he assures him that he was just kidding and that he wants him to stay. Despite feeling that Lennie is unwise and irrational George takes care of him as a friend, and wants the best for him. When he realizes that Lennie is carrying a dead mouse, George fears that this mouse might infect his friend with a dangerous disease. Since he cares, he picks it and throws it away in spite of Lennies protests. He tells Lennie that the problem is that he always kills mice (Steinbeck 13); albeit with a light touch. This demonstrates the caring attitude with which George treats Lennie despite his weaknesses. It is what true friendship is all about. A true friend cares. Although George bullies Lennie sometimes, he does not intend to hurt him. It is an attempt to help Lennie behave in a more sensible manner. True friendship and loyalty are inseparable (Westerink 99). Although George and Lennie argue, they take care of each other so mutually that they cannot afford to become separated. Lennie needs George to take care of him, and George, on the other hand, knows too well that he needs Lennie for companionship. This makes it possible for them to maintain they longstanding friendship. It is a demonstration that true friendship can be achieved and sustained.
Secondly, loyalty is an invaluable virtue in friendship. True friendship can only be achieved and maintained if the friends are loyal to each other. A true friend does not give up on their friends even when they feel that they are becoming unreasonable (Westerink 99). They stick with them through thick and thin. Sometimes, friends may make their counterparts feel that they no longer want to be associated with them. Unfortunately, this works towards weakening the bond of friendship. A weak friendship bond is a recipe for the failure of that friendship. John Steinbeck explores the aspect of a strong bond in a true friendship (Hall 904). In respect to his novel, Of Mice and Men, loyalty is what strengthens the bond of friendship. The relationship between George and Lennie is characterized by unprecedented loyalty and devotion. Lenny keeps on getting in trouble yet George has to put up with him. The two immigrant workers have to traverse the country, from one ranch to another as they run away from trouble caused by Lennie. Lennie is said to like soft objects. At one time, he is said to have held a woman's soft dress with his strong hands for so long. He would not let go. The woman was so angry that she accused him of rape. This got the two friends in trouble and they had to run away. George is angry and laments that if he were alone, he would have an easy time since he would get a job and work without having to run away upon getting in trouble. He angrily tells Lennie: 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.(11). This demonstrates the frustration that George has to go through, yet he does not give up on Lennie. He is totally loyal to him, and this is what keeps their friendship going. Loyalty is, therefore, one of the inevitable ingredients that sustain true friendship. It is a commitment that ensures that true friendship is attainable and possible to maintain.
Also, every person has a dream. They wish to succeed and live a prosperous life in which they are guaranteed to get whatever they wish. True friendship is about sharing a dream and working together towards it (Westerink 99). The American dream is one of the most famous dreams that form the foundation of George and Lennie's dream of a better life. The American Dream is an idea which suggests that any person can achieve whatever they wish if they are willing to work hard. The concept, which dates back to the 1600s when people started having aspirations and hopes for the new continent that was largely unexplored, suggests that every individual has the potential to lead a successful life as long as they dream of it and work hard to achieve it( Callahan 145). The American dream has gradually been expanded to include aspects such as meaningful relationships, freedom, prosperity and equality irrespective of one's race, gender, class, physical ability, religion, and origin, because everyone deserves to be happy (Hall 890). Although the American Dream has faced a lot of criticism due to its ideal nature, some people have continued to pursue it. Many authors focused on the American dream for the period of the Great Depression of the 1930s so as to codify the concept and entrench it in the American society (Callahan 146). George and Lennie are struggling to achieve the happiness associated with the dream. The closest they are to the dream is the aspect of their friendship and hope of a better future. Despite the challenges, they hope that their strong friendship will stand the test of time. They hope to own a farm and a house someday. George adds that all is not lost. He says: Somedaywere gonna get the jack together and were gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an a cow and some pigs (15). This is a big dream. They also dream of living "off the fatta the lan. (15), and having a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens.(15). The two friends plan to build their future together, and this is bound to strengthen their friendship. Sharing a dream is evidence that not only is true friendship possible to achieve but also to maintain.
Another aspect that makes true friendship achievable and sustainable is the ability to guard each other against loneliness. According to Simons, no human being wishes to be lonely (322). Everyone wishes to feel loved and have a sense of belonging. A friendship that offers the appropriate companionship is bound to last. George and Lennie are immigrant ranch workers who, just like their counterparts, have no family and friends. George puts it that "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world...They got no family. They don't belong. No place With us, it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.(13-14). According to the text, Lennie and George are the only workers in the ranch who are companions. The rest of the characters are very lonely. Crooks, one of the workers, for example, feels so lonely that he offers to hoe the farm if George and Lennie achieve their dream of acquiring their own farm. His loneliness is aggravated by the fact that he is the only black worker in the ranch; hence, he suffers the discrimination meted out to him, too. He hopes that his association with George and Lennie will help in driving away the loneliness and discrimination. Steinbeck uses such a character to demonstrate the importance of initiating and sustaining a friendship. Although Lennie talks to Crooks only when all the others are out in town, Crooks is very excited since he has not had anyone else to talk to. The achievement of true friendship, therefore, drives out loneliness hence is possible to sustain.
In conclusion, it is clear that friendship is a significant aspect in the life of every human being. Every person needs a friend. Although true friendship is hard to find, it is possible to build. As soon as it is built, it becomes possible to sustain. The true friend is caring, loyal, shares dreams and offers the necessary support, and drives out loneliness. These are some of the aspects that help build up a strong and true friendship. Steinbeck explores the issue of true friendship in his text, Of Mice and Men, and demonstrates that despite the differences that exist among human beings, it is possible to achieve and maintain true friendships among them. The only thing required is sacrifice and being true to oneself. With that, true friendship flourishes.
Callahan, William A. "The China Dream and the American Dream". Economic and Political Studies 2.1 (2014): 143-160.
Hall, J. A. "Friendship Standards: The Dimensions of Ideal Expectations". Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 29.7 (2012): 884-907.
Simons, Leon A. et al. "Impact of Loneliness and Living Alone". JAMA Internal Medicine 173.4 (2013): 322.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. 1st ed., New York, Penguin Books, 1993.
Westerink, Herman. "On True Friendship and on the Anthropological Relevance of Freuds The Future of an Illusion." Pastoral Psychology 63.1 (2014): 97-100.
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