George Milton is a character from John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men. Set in the 1930s, during the times of Great Depression, the novel tells the story of two ranch workers whose hopes to become farm owners get ruined by the realities of the material world and a tragic accident. This paper provides character analysis of George Milton, a migrant laborer. It outlines Milton’s character traits and supports the claims with examples from the text.
One of the first character traits which can be identified in George Milton is his sense of responsibility. George has accepted the responsibility of taking care of Lennie, his mentally handicapped companion. George promised Lennie’s aunt that he would take care of him, and he keeps his word till the end (even the fact that George eventually kills Lennie is, in fact, a demonstration of this responsibility since George saves Lennie from lynching this way). Lennie appears to kill whatever he touches even though his intentions are good. Only George’s watchful eye prevents Lennie from doing disastrous things. While George finds this task really frustrating, he goes on to care for Lennie and sacrifices his freedom and effort to aid his sick friend. “God a’ mighty,” we find George telling Lennie as both are camping on a riverbank one day, “if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cat house all night. I could eat anyplace I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do that every damn month. Get a gallon of whiskey, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool.” (Steinbeck 101) This quote has been used to show how responsibility for Lennie made George change his lifestyle and to show the multitude of George had to go through because of that voluntary responsibility.
Next, George is optimistic. Even though he knows his dream to have a farm is hardly attainable, he does not give it up. He uses this dream to inspire Lennie who also starts dreaming about breeding rabbits on a farm. This dream keeps George going through all hardships and it gives him a sense of purpose in life. Whereas George appears to be a practical man in all other respects, his dream about having a farm and his ability to follow his dream and share his dream with Lennie make the reader believe that George is rather optimistic. As the friends are speaking of this dream by the river, George says, “Someday — we’re gonna get the jack together and gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and –”. Lennie readily supports his optimism and develops the dream by shouting “An live off the fatta the lan […] An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that, George…” (Steinbeck 15)
Finally, George is quick-tempered. He is often angry with Lennie because of his uncontrolled conduct. Indeed, the big man is unable to monitor his strength and control his actions, so George regularly gets angry to such extent that Lennie knows well what it is when his friend “gives him hell” (Steinbeck 101). At the same time, George is not bad-tempered at all. His anger fades away quickly as George recalls how innocent Lennie is and how unable Lennie is to think in a clear manner or remember even simple things.
In a summary, three character features have been identified in the character of George Milton: sense of responsibility, optimism, and quick temper. They have been crucial to understanding of this character and his actions.