Si c'est un homme

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Primo Levi

George

George is also somewhat of a simple character. He is characterized by his quick wit and short temper, as well as his devoted loyalty to Lennie. Although he often complains about the burden placed upon him by Lennie, George continues to protect Lennie, which indicates his commitment to him as a friend. His protection for Lennie begins at the outset of the story, when he warns Lennie not to drink the water out of the pool out of concern for the health of Lennie.

Despite the simplicity of George’s characteristics, Steinbeck presents him as more of a dynamic character than Lennie. George undergoes transformation, experiencing change and growth through the progression of the story. In a conversation with Slim, George states that he at one time took advantage of Lennie’s mental slowness, and abused him for the sole purpose of being amused. George showed remorse for this incident, and gained more of an understanding of the morality involved in taking advantage of individuals that exhibit weakness. Throughout the story, George develops a significant and upsetting realization that much of the world functions by taking advantage of the weak in order for the stronger to prosper. George has a hardened exterior, weathered from tough times as a migrant worker, but he is an idealist in the way he truly believes in the dream he shares with Lennie of eventually owning land and operating their own farm, and he takes great pleasure in continually describing the dream to Lennie. Accompanying this dream of an idyllic farm is George’s underlying belief in the potential of paradise and a fair and caring world. Throughout the story, blinders are slowly lifted from George’s eyes, and he begins to take on a different view of humanity. Specifically, George starts to see how it is every man for himself and that most individuals will take advantage of others in order to get ahead. The end of the story sees George shooting Lennie, which has two effects. First, it salvages some dignity for Lennie, since he is not subject to the killing by Curley and the other workers, and second, it retires the idealized conceptions George had of humanity based in brotherly love.

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