Skip to Content

What does Lennie ask George to do when they are by the river?

John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a classic novel that explores various themes, including the American Dream, loneliness, and the impossibility of achieving the dream. Another theme that prominently features in the novel is the idea of companionship and friendship. The story revolves around two friends, George Milton and Lennie Small, who are migrant workers traveling together during the Great Depression. One of the most crucial moments in the story involves a conversation between George and Lennie by the river, where Lennie makes a special request. In this blog post, we’re going to explore in detail what Lennie asks George to do at the river, why it’s significant, and what it tells us about the characters.

The Scene by the River

In chapter one of ‘Of Mice and Men,’ Steinbeck sets the scene by the river, where George and Lennie are resting after a day’s work. Lennie, who has an intellectual disability, is fascinated by soft things and often carries a dead mouse or a piece of cloth in his pocket to touch. George admonishes him for it but also recognizes that he can’t really help himself.

During this scene, Lennie asks George to describe their dream farm where they will settle down and live off the land. Lennie loves to listen to this story, which he knows by heart, and often interrupts George to recite parts of it. George tells him that they will have a small house and a vegetable garden and rabbits that Lennie can tend to and take care of.

The scene is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a moment of respite from the hardships of migrant work and offers a glimpse of hope and a better future for the characters. It also highlights the close bond between George and Lennie, which is based on shared dreams, companionship, and mutual support.

The Significance of Lennie’s Request

The pivotal moment of this scene is Lennie’s request of George. Lennie asks George to tell the story of their farm, and George begins talking about how most men drift along, without any companions, but he and Lennie have one another. Lennie’s request is significant because it shows how much the dream of their own farm means to him. Despite his intellectual disability, Lennie is aware of the difficulties of their life as migrant workers and the temporary nature of their employment. He longs for a stable home where he can be with George and care for the rabbits.

Lennie’s request also underscores his trust and dependence on George. He knows that George is the only one who can make their dream a reality. As readers, we can see that Lennie’s fantasies are unrealistic, and the farm is an impossible dream. However, we also see that Lennie’s belief in the dream is what keeps him going. It’s something to strive for, and it provides Lennie with a sense of purpose and direction.

Finally, Lennie’s request shows his childlike innocence. Despite the harsh realities of their life and the constant disappointments they face, Lennie clings to a romantic vision of the future. It’s a reminder that sometimes, it’s the simple things in life, like a home of your own or caring for rabbits, that can bring happiness and fulfillment.

The Relationship between George and Lennie

The scene by the river also gives us an insight into the relationship between George and Lennie. They are an unlikely pair: George is small, quick-witted, and fiercely independent, while Lennie is large, slow, and dependent on George for guidance. However, they have a deep bond based on trust and mutual need.

Lennie’s request to hear about their farm is not just a desire for an idealized future, but also a way of affirming their connection. George tells Lennie that they are different from other men who work alone and have no companionship. He says, “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place.” This statement highlights the idea of loneliness and isolation, which is a significant theme in the novel.

The relationship between George and Lennie is not without its struggles and hardships. George is often frustrated with Lennie’s childlike behavior and his inability to remember instructions. Lennie unwittingly gets into trouble, which puts their dream in jeopardy. However, despite these challenges, the two men remain loyal to each other. George protects Lennie as much as he can and tries to shield him from the dangers of the world.


In conclusion, Lennie’s request to hear about their farm by the river is a poignant moment in ‘Of Mice and Men.’ It highlights the significance of companionship, the human need for hope and stability, and the desire for a better future. The scene is a reminder that sometimes, the simplest things in life, like a piece of cloth or a fantasy about a future farm, can bring joy and meaning to our lives. Most importantly, it shows us the power of human connection, and the lengths we will go to protect and care for those we love.

If you want to read more about ‘Of Mice and Men,’ you can check out this SparkNotes summary.


What happens when George finds Lennie at the river?

In John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men”, George finds Lennie at the river after he has accidentally killed Curley’s wife, the boss’s son’s wife, whom he had a crush on. George knew that if they are caught, Lennie would have to face punishment, which he couldn’t handle since Lennie had a mental disability. George faces a dilemma, and he knows that he must make a hard decision.

George begins by talking to Lennie and telling him to look out over the land and picture the farm that they are going to have. He describes their life together on the farm, where they won’t have to work for anyone else or worry about being fired. George tries to take Lennie’s mind off his troubles, and he reminds him of how they’re going to tend rabbits and other animals on the farm.

George then tells Lennie that he’s not mad at him and never was. This is a turning point in their relationship as George has always taken care of Lennie, but he has also been quick to scold and yell at Lennie in the past. In a touching moment, George tells Lennie that he is proud of him, and he assures him that he has always been a good friend to him.

However, George knows that he can’t let Lennie live and face punishment for a crime he didn’t intentionally commit. George must make a difficult decision, and with good thoughts in Lennie’s mind, he pulls the trigger, killing Lennie and their dream along with him.

The events that transpire when George finds Lennie at the river are heart-wrenching. The novel explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and the harsh reality of the American Dream. George and Lennie’s relationship is an integral part of the story, and their bond is put to the ultimate test in the scene at the river. In the end, George’s decision to kill Lennie reflects the reality of the world they live in and signifies the end of their dream of owning a farm.

What instructions does George give to Lennie right before they go to sleep by the river?

In Chapter One of John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men,” George, the quick-witted and practical companion of Lennie, gives Lennie some specific instructions before they go to sleep by the river. First, George tells Lennie to come back to the brush if he gets into any trouble. This instruction is important as it foreshadows what will happen later in the novel when Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife, and returns to the brush in a panic.

Furthermore, George reminds Lennie that if he finds himself in danger, he should not speak a single word. This instruction is a significant one because Lennie is known for lacking in verbal communication skills, which often causes him problems. George is aware of the potential danger that Lennie’s inability to communicate can cause, and thus, advises him to remain silent at all times to avoid any misunderstandings or danger.

Additionally, George tells Lennie that he should not drink the water from the river or get sick from it. George’s concern about the water’s potential danger demonstrates his protective side for Lennie. He wants to make sure that Lennie avoids any harm that may come his way, and thus, instructs him on how to avoid getting sick from contaminated water.

George’S instructions to Lennie, before going to sleep by the river, reflect his concern for Lennie’s safety and well-being. These instructions foreshadow the events that will take place later in the novel and demonstrate the protective nature of George towards his innocent companion, Lennie.

What does Lennie do when he first sees the water?

In John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men”, Lennie is portrayed as a childlike character with a curious nature and simple desires. When Lennie first sees the pool of water, there is an immediate sense of wonder and amazement in him. It’s as if he has never seen anything like it before.

He walks up to the water’s edge and kneels down to take a drink, but the water’s surface is disturbed, and Lennie startles and backs away. However, he quickly regains his composure and begins slurping down huge gulps of water like a horse. This scene portrays Lennie as someone who doesn’t hold back when it comes to satisfying his basic needs.

Moreover, Lennie’s reaction to the water highlights his childlike innocence and his reliance on instinctual behavior. Lennie’s behavior can be seen as an example of his pureness and lack of complication, as he is not swayed by societal constructs or morals. His immediate desire for something as basic as water is a metaphor for his lack of complexity in life and shows how simple things can bring him joy.

Finally, Lennie’s greatest feeling of security comes from petting soft things. When the rest of the world gets complicated and scary, petting soft things helps Lennie feel safe. The pool of water that Lennie sees is portrayed as serene and calming, which offers a similar sense of safety to him. His unfiltered enthusiasm towards the pool of water demonstrates his childlike wonder, while his instinctual reaction highlights his simplistic desires and lack of guile.