At one point in the story, George imagines what his life would be like without Lennie.
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George’s complaint – “Life would be so easy without Lennie” – and Lennie’s counter-complaint – “I could just live in a cave and leave George alone” – are not really sincere. They are staged, hollow threats, like the threats of parents and children (“I’ll pull this car over right now, mister!”). Similarly, George’s story about how “things are going to be,” with rabbits and a vegetable garden and the fat of the land, also has a formulaic quality, like a child’s bedtime story. Children (like Lennie) love to hear the same tale repeated countless times; even when they have the story memorized, they love to talk along, anticipating the major turns in the story and correcting their parents if they leave out any details. “The rabbits” is Lennie’s bedtime story, and while George isn’t exactly a parent to Lennie, he is nevertheless parental. George is Lennie’s guardian – and in guarding Lennie, George is in effect guarding innocence itself.