Of Mice and Men is the story of George, the main protagonist, who is small in stature along with his friend Lennie Small whom George looks after as a favor to Lennie's aunt. Lennie, a man very large in stature and simple minded, likes to pet soft things. This is why they are searching for work at the start of the story. George and Lennie are farmhands by trade who constantly have to look for work throughout parts of California because Lennie, being mentally handicapped, always gets them into trouble.
George and Lennie find work at a nearby farm harvesting grain, but before going George tells Lennie that if he gets into trouble again to meet him in a certain designated spot to hide away from the farm. George and Lennie stick together because of the human need for friendship in order to avoid loneliness. The other prevalent theme in the novel is the American dream, and how this dream goes wrong for George and Lennie, which represents the reality for most of America during the Great Depression.
George and Lennie's friendship is a peculiar one because farmhands tend to wander from farm to farm by themselves. There tends to be a high level of loneliness that exists in this nomadic life style. Steinbach demonstrates the importance of friendship and how everybody needs to have somebody to talk to even if it is someone like Lennie. Nobody wants to be alone in this world and this includes George. George describes this fear when he says, "I ain't got no people. I seen guys that go around on ranches alone. That ain't no good . . . Course Lennie's a damn nuisance most of the time, but you get used to goin" around with a guy an" you can't get rid of him" (45). George doesn't want to be alone, and Lennie can't really be alone due to his lack of mental prowess. Their desire for social companionship is likewise based on a common dream which is that someday they will own their own farm together.