How Is Lennie Presented in the Novel "Of Mice and Men"

Topics: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Great Depression Pages: 6 (2717 words) Published: May 23, 2011
Lennie Small has a very symbolic importance in the novel Of Mice and Men. In the novel George Milton and Lennie Small both migrant workers pursue their dream of someday owning their own ranch by travelling around working as ranch hands to earn a living. The dream they share is to be able to "live off the fat of the land,". Lennie Small is a very complex character, although he may not appear to be at first glance. Lennie is the most interesting character in the novel because he differs from the other is many ways. Lennie Small ironically is a man of large stature and is very strong. He is child-like in his emotions and has a diminished mental capacity. Lennie's feelings are much like that of a normal person when you take into consideration that he is mentally retarded. One of Lennie's biggest concerns is that of a continued friendship with George. Throughout the novel their friendship is affirmed as Lennie states, "Because…… because I got you to look after me and you got me to look after you,". Lennie has a distrust of people except for George. Also, Lennie is not always sure about what is right and what is wrong; he relies on George to make the distinction for him. Lennie lacks the understanding that his actions have consequences. This is seen when he holds on to his pet mouse so tightly that he kills it. Lennie walks his way through life completely oblivious to the dangers of the world holding on to the dream of someday owning a farm with his best friend George. Lennie does not understand his own strength and also lacks the understanding of what is socially acceptable behaviour. George realizes that the bad things that Lennie does are not committed out of meanness. Lennie knows that he doesn't fit in, for example when Lennie says, "Well, I can go away, I'll go right off in the hills and find a cave." . Lennie's fate symbolizes that he has become a menace to society. If you are unable to function within the norms of society than you will ultimately be destroyed.

We don’t know a lot about Lennie’s background but by Judging what we are told of his past, he didn’t have a “normal” happy upbringing. We don’t know what happened to Lennie’s family and parents and why he didn’t live with them, just that he was looked after by his Aunt Clara. Lennie was picked on by George and his friends because of his lack of intelligence but to Lennie this must have seemed normal. We learn from George about out an incident that happened when they were younger. George and his friends had told Lennie to jump in the the river as a joke, knowing that he would do what they said. Lennie couldn’t swim and almost drowned. George had to jump in and rescue him. Afterwards, Lennie was very thankful to George for rescuing him but he couldn’t remember that George had told him to jump in, in the first place. Lennie is very trusting and will do anything that George tells him to do. He is the only person Lennie has in the world. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie started to go round ranches with George. George had promised Lennie’s aunt that he would look after him. Without George, Lennie would be completely helpless. It is unlikely that anyone one would put up with Lennie the way George did. Like many children, Lennie loves to touch soft things, but his love for soft things causes the first of many incidents. “Dumb bastard like he is, he wants to touch ever’thing he likes…” . He loves everything that is soft to the touch, but his misunderstanding of things causes great confusion. He thinks it’s okay to touch what he likes, but when a girl sees is a huge giant coming at her and grabbing on to her clothing, she screams. At this, Lennie freezes up because he doesn’t know what to do due to his mental disability. He thinks the reasonable thing to do is to hold on. This is a great misinterpretation of things as it’s exactly the opposite of what to do.

Lennie’s failure to remember what he is told results in the death of Curley’s wife. He can’t remember...
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