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Of Mice and Men Essay
"An live off the fatta the lan" (15). To live off their own land remains the main desire of John Steinbeck’s
principal characters in his novel Of Mice and Men. Lennie and George, two ranch hands spend their time
working in California during the 1930’s hoping to save the money necessary to buy their own land some
day. The two men, however, must confront a major problem. George spends his time taking care of Lennie
who is mentally challenged. Lennie is a good man who has serious problems and must suffer the
Throughout the novel Lennie consistently exhibits the characteristics of a good man. For example, when
the story begins Lennie has in possession, a dead mouse. When George questioned him about what he has
in his pocket, he replies, "I could pet it with my thumb while we walked (6). Lennie’s good intentions
concerning the mouse display his sincerity and his pre-occupation with "soft" things. Further Lennie’s
decency becomes evident with his goal in life. He, like most people, wants the simple pleasures in life:
"We’d just live there (on the farm) we’d belong there. There wouldn’t be no more runnin’ round the
country..." (63). Left alone, Lennie would live a simple, decent life. In fact, Lennie’s gentleness jumps out
at the reader when he gets unmercifully beaten by Curley. While defending himself, he crushes Curley’s
right hand, yet he states to his friend, "I didn’t want no trouble, I didn’t mean no harm, George" (72).
Curley attacks viciously, but Lennie feels sorry for the u!
se of his force.
Throughout the novel Lennie exhibits a variety of problems. First, Lennie’s problem appears when they are
on their way to gain work at the ranch. While walking along George says to Lennie, "What’d you take out
of that pocket?" (5). Lennie replies, "Uhh- uh. Jus’ a dead mouse. I didn’t kill it"(6). It becomes apparent
quickly that Lennie’s strength outweighs his need to touch soft things. Later, the reader becomes aware of
Lennie’s earlier mishaps while in Weed. George recounts how Lennie goofed. "So he reaches out to feel
this red dress an’ the girl lets out a squawk." Needless to say, George and Lennie find it necessary to flee a
angry mob bent on harming them. Ultimately, Lennie’s problem worsens when he comes across Curley’s
wife who desperately needs attention. While working on the ranch Lennie meets her and she starts a
flirtatious relationship. Foolishly she asks Lennie to feel how soft her hair is not realizing her strength.
"And then she was still, for Lennie had brok!
en her neck." At this point Lennie has no more mistakes. Eventually Lennie suffers the serious consequence
of his appropriate acts for example, George and Lennie first appear in the story as they flee from a crowd of
angry people. Lennie has mistakenly touched a young girl, forcing their flight. George reminds him, "you
get in trouble, you do bad things and I have to get you out, you crazy son- of- a- bitch" (13). Lennie’s
actions force the two men constantly to seek new employment.
Further, Lennie confronts the consequences of another foolish act while playing with his puppy and says,
"God damn you, why do you got to get killed? Now I won’t get to tend the rabbits," (93). This however
does not prove to be Lennie’s most serious mistake. His most serious mistake comes when he accidentally
kills Curley’s wife. " ‘Don’t you go yellin,’ he said as he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And
then she was still for Lennie had broken her neck"(100). This time no escape exists for Lennie for Lennie
will die violently by the hands of Curley. George must end Lennie’s life: "(He ) raised the gun and
steadied it and brought it close to the back of Lennie’s head. He pulled the trigger" (117). Perhaps George
knew in his heart that Lennie had reached the end of his usefulness.
By the novel’s end little doubt exists as to that Lennie was a good man, possessed of a problem for which
he paid the serious consequences. For most people the necessity for a dream remains powerful. Lives take
their shapes based on
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