Of Mice and Men

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George Milton Character Analysis

George is Lennie's friend and protector. Unlike the giant, lumbering Lennie, George is small and wiry with a quick and resourceful mind. In many ways, George is a typical migrant farm worker, a class of poor and lonely men who traveled from ranch to ranch looking for work during the Great Depression. But George differs from these often bitter men because of his friendship with Lennie, which keeps him, in his own words, from getting "mean." Though George sometimes resents Lennie as a burden, he also deeply loves him, and shares with him a dream of owning their own farm.

George Milton Quotes in Of Mice and Men

The Of Mice and Men quotes below are all either spoken by George Milton or refer to George Milton. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Broken Plans Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Of Mice and Men published in 1993.
Part 1 Quotes
Well, we ain't got any,' George exploded. 'Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble....An' whatta I got,' George went on furiously. 'I got you! 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.
Related Characters: George Milton (speaker), Lennie Small
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

While eating a dinner of canned beans, Lennie complains about the lack of ketchup to spice up the meal. In this quote, George complains about Lennie's attitude in retaliation. Though Lennie is large, strong, and a good worker, he is mentally disabled and often misbehaves, getting the two of them into trouble and often causing them to lose their jobs. However, though George here complains that he would be better off if he were not stuck with Lennie, the fact that he is still with Lennie after so many mishaps is a testament to his loyalty to his friend—and it also suggests that George is dependent on Lennie just as much as Lennie depends on George.

George is all talk, and for him, venting his frustration is Lennie's punishment for being ungrateful about the meal. George would never actually act on any of these claims. Though he acknowledges that Lennie does "bad things" that he must then bail him out of, the fact remains that he does, consistently, bail Lennie out, again and again. His irritation with Lennie is sincere, but his statements that he will abandon him never are. While the two men differ in many significant ways, they are bound by their unyielding loyalty towards one another. 

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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.... An' why? Because...because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why.
Related Characters: George Milton (speaker), Lennie Small
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

After George finishes complaining about Lennie as a burden, Lennie offers to leave George and run away into the woods. George tells him to stop, and that he wants him to stay. In this quote, George repeats a refrain about his and Lennie's friendship that he often uses to calm Lennie down when they get into an altercation like this one.

Here, George explains that though ranching is a lonely line of work, he and Lennie are special because they have each other. Though they live a nomadic life, working from farm to farm like other ranchers, they look out for each other, and have a future planned together: they want to buy a ranch of their own some day. George sticks with Lennie because he knows Lennie would never make it alone in the world, and he reciprocates Lennie's undying loyalty towards him. Lennie trusts George without question, since George has been his only support system since his Aunt Clara passed away. Though other ranchers might be technically richer since they aren't constantly running away from their jobs, like George and Lennie have to do when Lennie gets in trouble, they are rich in something other ranchers don't have: a friendship that functions like a family. 

"Well," said George, "we'll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we'll just say the hell with goin' to work, and we'll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an' listen to the rain comin' down on the roof."
Related Characters: George Milton (speaker)
Related Symbols: George and Lennie's Farm, Rabbits
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

When George repeats his refrain about why they, as two traveling friends, are different than other ranchers, Lennie asks George to tell him about the farm that they are going to have together. Lennie often asks George to repeat this story, as a sort of verbal security blanket that calms him when he is upset.

In this quote, George repeats yet another refrain about a piece of land that he and Lennie will own, with their own livestock and crops. As ranchers, they are constantly doing backbreaking labor to harvest the crops that someone else owns, for meager pay. If they were to own their own land, they could "live off tha fatta the lan'," as Lennie is fond of saying--they can be sustained entirely by the food they grow. They would effectively be their own bosses, and therefore "say the hell with goin' to work" whenever they please, rather than risk being fired by an employer. The repetition of this dream keeps both men going even when times are hard. The belief that their future will be better than their current situation is one that they must furtively believe if they are to continue to endure the repercussions of Lennie's antics on various ranches across California. 

Part 2 Quotes
"Ain't many guys travel around together," he mused. "I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other."
Related Characters: Slim (speaker), George Milton, Lennie Small
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

On the ranch, George and Lennie are introduced to Slim, a skinner whom everybody respects. In this quote, Slim, like many of the other ranchers, expresses his surprise that two men like Lennie and George travel around together. Ranchers in that region tended to be nomadic workers, moving from ranch to ranch whenever and wherever they could find work. It was seen as lonely, individual work, and men rarely traveled together. Therefore, a pair like Lennie and George was seldom seen at these ranches. Slim, as an experienced rancher, has seen many men come and go, and in this quote, he observes that these men are usually alone--perhaps, he reasons, "the whole damn world is scared of each other." The lonely life of a rancher perpetuates feelings of animosity against other ranchers who could be potential competition for jobs and can often inspire meanness, creating a circle of loneliness. What George and Lennie have, particularly in their line of work, is a rarity. 

Part 3 Quotes
S'pose they was a carnival or a circus come to town, or a ball game, or any damn thing." Old Candy nodded in appreciation of the idea. "We'd just go to her," George said. "We wouldn't ask nobody if we could. Jus' say, 'We'll go to her,' an' we would. Jus' milk the cow and sling some grain to the chickens an' go to her
Related Characters: George Milton (speaker), Candy (speaker)
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

Candy overhears Lennie and George talking about the farm they one day want to own and pipes up that he, too, would love to get in on the deal. He says that he has money saved up from the settlement when he was injured, and that he would work on the land for no pay. In this quote, George and Candy both relish the idea that if they owned their own farm, they would not have to answer to anyone--if there was something they wanted to do, they wouldn't have to worry about losing their jobs if they left the ranch for a day. Both men are tired of working to harvest crops that they don't own for very little money, and are seduced by the idea of being their own bosses and owning the fruits of their own land. To finally have a place to call home is an especially tantalizing proposition. 

I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.
Related Characters: Candy (speaker), George Milton
Related Symbols: Candy's Dog
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:
Overpowered by the collective agreement of the men that his dog needed to be shot, Candy reluctantly consents to letting Carlson shoot it outside. In this quote, Candy tells George that he regrets not shooting the dog himself. Of course, Candy would have never even thought to kill the dog due to old age if he hadn't been egged on by the other men. Candy reared the dog since it was a pup, and was very attached to it. He feels residual guilt for not killing the dog himself due to this attachment, even though he would never have had the courage to put a gun to the old dog's head. Much of this guilt and regret is related to the fact that Candy feels that he has little control over his life on the ranch. Due to his age and disability, he has no other job prospects, and worries that his employment will abruptly end one day when the boss decides he is a financial burden. Even though it would have been incredibly painful for him to kill his own dog, it would have at least given him a degree of control in his life. 
Part 5 Quotes
I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would.
Related Characters: George Milton (speaker)
Related Symbols: George and Lennie's Farm
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

When George realizes that Lennie has killed Curley's wife, he immediately knows that his dream of owning his own farm, too, has died. The farm was the collective dream of both George and Lennie, and it would never be the same without Lennie.

In this quote, George painfully recalls how much Lennie loved to daydream about having the farm. The story, he now knows, has become one of myth rather than of a future reality. Here, George attempts to convince himself that he had never really believed it would happen--that he had only started to believe it because Lennie made him recite the story so many times, since it delighted him to imagine their own farm (particularly, the rabbits). Like with his fake scorn of Lennie, to make his friend feel badly when he misbehaves, George tells himself it would have never really happened, so he feels less disappointed about no longer holding onto the dream of the farm. Even though he could still potentially buy the farm on his own with Candy, and even with Crooks, he knows he could never bring himself to do it without Lennie. Rather than bringing the peace and freedom he hoped it would, it would only carry with it memories of pain and sadness. 


Part 6 Quotes
No, Lennie. I ain't mad. I never been mad, an' I ain't now. That's a thing I want ya to know.
Related Characters: George Milton (speaker), Lennie Small
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

After killing Curley's wife, Lennie goes and hides out in the brush, just like George told him to if he ever got in trouble. George accompanies the murderous search party, but sneaks away to find Lennie in their chosen spot. Lennie tells George he knows he is probably angry over what he has done, and in this quote, George tells Lennie he is not mad at him--nor has he ever been mad at him. Though Lennie frequently misbehaves and gets both himself and George in trouble, and George acts as if he is very angry and on the verge of abandoning Lennie, George is never truly furious with his friend. He understands that Lennie has a disability and simply does not comprehend his own physical strengths, mental weaknesses, or the actions that result from the dangerous combinations of the two. It is in this heartbreaking final goodbye that George tells Lennie he has never been really mad at him. Rather, this statement implies that he has been truly grateful to have Lennie, who is faithful to a fault, by his side for so many years.

"Never you mind," said Slim. "A guy got to sometimes."
Related Characters: Slim (speaker), George Milton
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

With Curley's armed and murderous party approaching, George asks Lennie to look out at the water as he describes, for one last time, the dream of their shared farm. Before the party can find them in the brush, George shoots Lennie in the back of his head, killing him before the other men have a chance to. In this quote, Slim finds George and Lennie and realizes what has happened. He attempts to console George by telling him he had no choice--had the men found Lennie first, there was no telling what they might do to him, but it was certain to end in death. Similar to the way Candy wishes he shot his dog instead of Carlson, George wanted to be the one who killed Lennie because he knew he was the only person who could do it in the most merciful way possible, even though it was an act that surely would haunt him for the rest of his life. 

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George Milton Character Timeline in Of Mice and Men

The timeline below shows where the character George Milton appears in Of Mice and Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Male Friendship Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...area near the riverbed of the Salinas River a few miles south of Soledad, California. George Milton and Lennie Small, two men dressed in denim, are walking along a path on... (full context)
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...stop. Lennie drinks huge gulps from a pool of standing water next to the river. George warns him not to drink too much or else he'll get sick again. (full context)
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When George complains about the bus driver who dropped them off too far from the ranch, Lennie... (full context)
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George throws the mouse away, and tells Lennie they're going to a ranch like the one... (full context)
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Lennie remembers that they were "run out" of Weed, but George says they ran away before they could be run out. George then says that his... (full context)
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George decides they should spend the night where they are. Lennie goes off to find firewood.... (full context)
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...men have a dinner of canned beans. When Lennie complains about the lack of ketchup, George again says how much easier his life would be without Lennie. He brings up the... (full context)
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Lennie offers to leave George alone and go live in a cave. Lennie imagines that he could keep mice in... (full context)
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George says he wants Lennie to stay with him. He comments that ranch workers are always... (full context)
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At Lennie's urging, George describes their future. They'll save money until they can buy their own farm. George describes... (full context)
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As they go to sleep, George asks Lennie to take a close look at their surroundings. He tells Lennie that if... (full context)
Part 2
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George and Lennie arrive at the ranch the next morning. At the bunkhouse, an old man... (full context)
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The boss enters. George blames the bus driver for their lateness. When the boss asks about their skills, George... (full context)
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...boss has never seen a man go out of his way for another man like George does for Lennie, and suspects that George might be taking advantage of Lennie. George lies,... (full context)
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After the boss leaves, Lennie asks George if what he said was true. George says they were just lies, and notices that... (full context)
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When Candy leaves, George tells Lennie to stay away from Curley. Fighting with Curley, he warns, will get them... (full context)
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The American Dream Theme Icon
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...that Curley is back at the main house. When she's gone, Lennie calls her "purty." George warns him to stay away from her. Lennie, frightened, begs to leave the ranch. George... (full context)
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The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
Slim is a leader and authority among the other ranch hands. After talking to George and Lennie and seeing their friendship, Slim is impressed. He says it's rare to see... (full context)
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Carlson, another ranch hand, introduces himself to George and Lennie, then asks Slim about his dog. Slim says she gave birth to nine... (full context)
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Curley enters again, looking for his wife. When he leaves, George says he might end up in a fight with Curley himself. The triangle rings, signalling... (full context)
Part 3
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Slim agrees to give Lennie a puppy. When George thanks him, Slim says Lennie is the best worker he's ever seen even though he's... (full context)
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George explains that he grew up with Lennie and took care of him after his Aunt... (full context)
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George also tells Slim what happened in Weed. Lennie touched a woman's dress. She objected. He... (full context)
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Lennie enters with his puppy under his coat. George orders him to return the puppy to its litter. While Lennie is gone, Candy and... (full context)
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...for Slim. Slim leaves with Crooks, and the men discuss Curley's wife. They agree with George that women don't belong on ranches, and that she'll end up causing trouble. Whit invites... (full context)
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George and Lennie stay behind, and soon begin talking about their farm. Having overheard George's description... (full context)
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As the other men return, George warns Lennie and Candy to keep the farm a secret. Candy whispers back that he... (full context)
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Curley wants to fire George and Lennie, but Slim tells him if he does no one on the ranch will... (full context)
Part 4
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Suddenly angry and bitter, Crooks tells Lennie that George might not return to the ranch. In terrible fear, Lennie nearly attacks Crooks. (full context)
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The other men return. When George discovers Lennie was talking about the farm, he gets angry. But Crooks says Curley's wife... (full context)
Part 5
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The American Dream Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
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Candy enters and finds Curley's wife's body. He runs and gets George, and the two of them realize that Curley will lynch Lennie. Candy then asks if... (full context)
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Fearing Curley will think he had something to do with the murder, George tells Candy to pretend George never saw the body. George leaves. Candy curses at Curley's... (full context)
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Slim, Whit, Carlson, Curley, Crooks, and George enter the barn. Curley demands that Lennie be killed. Carlson says his gun is missing... (full context)
Part 6
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The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
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...brush by the river, Lennie has a vision of his Aunt Clara, who tells him George would have had a much easier life without him. Lennie then has a hallucination of... (full context)
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George shows up. He is quiet and not angry. Lennie begs George to yell at him.... (full context)
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Lennie then asks George to describe their farm. George does, and tells Lennie to take off his hat and... (full context)
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The other men hear the gun shot. George tells Carlson that Lennie had his gun and that he shot him after wrestling it... (full context)