Am I my Brother’s Keeper?
John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “Of Mice and Men” describes the friendship of two migrant farm workers, Lenny and George who traveled together in search of work in the 1940’s post depression era in California. After Lenny’s Aunt Clara dies George feels obligated to care for Lenny after he promised Aunt Clara that he would watch out for him. To his demise, Lenny was mentally handicapped, incredibly strong, and liked to touch soft things. He wasn’t able to control his compulsion to touch them and this eventually led to him killing a woman and fleeing for his life. In his final act to protect him George shot and killed Lenny preventing the angry and bloodthirsty mob from getting to Lenny.
George was devoted to Lenny and cared for him out of a sense of duty and compassion. He knew Lenny could not fend for himself. In one scene, George tells Lenny that if he didn’t have to look after him he would have it so easy. He was frustrated at the trouble Lenny always caused him but he recanted and knew that Lenny would not be able to care for himself, and harm would come to him. Lenny’s mind was like a child’s and he needed looking after. Lenny always got in trouble and George always came to his rescue. George became Lenny’s keeper even at the cost of his own happiness and freedom. His last act to care for Lenny was when he euthanized him. He told him to look out to the horizon and asked him to envision their dream of a little house on a ranch with rabbits for Lenny to tend as his last thought before he left this earth.
I don’t believe in euthanasia as God is the giver of life and our days are written in His books. However, I do believe in friendship, compassion and devotion and that is what I took from this novel.
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