George is described as physically small with very sharp features, an opposite to Lennie Small. Milton is the last name of the author of one of Steinbeck's favorite works, Paradise Lost. In that epic poem, Adam and Eve fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. Because of their fall, mankind is doomed to be alone and walk the earth as a lonely being. Some critics believe George represents that doomed man who longs to return to Eden. His one chance to avoid that fate is his relationship with Lennie, which makes them different from the other lonely men. But despite this companionship, at the end of the book, George is fated to be once again alone.
George's personality often reflects both anger and understanding. Of the two men, he is the one who thinks things through and considers how their goals can be reached. Once Candy makes the stake possible, George comes up with the details: where they will get the ranch, how long they must work to pay for it, and how they will have to keep a low profile in order to work for the next month. George also foresees possible complications and gives Lennie advice about what he must do in order to help their future. While George can be very rational and thoughtful, he also gets frustrated and angry with Lennie because the big man cannot control his strength or actions. George repeatedly gets angry, so much so that Lennie knows by heart what it means when George "gives him hell." But George's anger quickly fades when he remembers Lennie's innocence and his inability to remember or think clearly.
George, unlike other men, has a companion and friend in Lennie. Because of this, Lennie makes George feel special. They are different from all the other guys, and George realizes only too well that they have a special bond. At the ranch, George often plays solitaire, a game for one. Without Lennie, George would be a loner. Even though George gets frustrated by Lennie's mental weakness, he also feels compassion for his friend. Lennie offers George the opportunity to lay plans, give advice, and, in general, be in charge. Without Lennie, George would be just like the other hands, but with Lennie, George has a strong sense of responsibility. In the end, he even takes responsibility for Lennie's death. George also understands that Lennie does not have an adult's sense of guilt and does not understand death or murder beyond it being a "bad thing." George makes it possible for Lennie — sometimes — to understand at least partial consequences of his actions. Unfortunately, George does not realize how dangerous Lennie can be, and this lack of foresight adds to the downfall of their dream.
Their dream also sets George apart from the others because it means he and Lennie have a future and something to anticipate. Unlike Lennie, George does not see their dream in terms of rabbits; instead, he sees it in a practical way. Their farm will be one where they can be independent and safe and where he will not have to worry about keeping track of Lennie's mistakes. They can be secure and in charge of their own lives. However, Lennie is the one who adds the enthusiasm because George never really believed they could swing this farm of their own. He mostly uses the story to give Lennie something to believe in for their future. Only when Candy offers the stake does George actually begin to see that this dream could come true. But, realist that he is, George tells Candy over the lifeless body of Curley's wife, "I think I knowed from the very first. I think I know'd we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would [be able to have the farm.]" In the end, George Milton is man alone once again.