How Lennie Is Portrayed in the First Chapter of "Of Mice and Men"

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In “Of Mice and Men”, Steinbeck portrays Lennie as an animal. To begin with, Steinbeck describes Lennie’s physical features to be very animal-like. He states that he walked “the way a bear drags his paws”. The use of animal imagery in this quote illustrates an image of a huge man heavily dragging himself, not only suggesting his size but also suggesting his immense strength. Due to his physicality, he is unable to carry out tasks normal people would be able to do. He is unable to control himself, specifically his strength—thus easily breaking things. Steinbeck emphasizes this as he brings up incidents of Lennie having killed mice and other small, fragile animals, while petting them. Lennie is also described to have an animal’s mental state, leaning towards animal instincts rather than human instincts. Steinbeck states he’d “drink out of a gutter if [he] was thirsty”, displaying Lennie’s rash behaviour. His urge to satisfy his immediate desire would overpower the need to be cautious and aware of his surroundings. Many people think before they act. In Lennie’s case however, he doesn’t think at all as George does it for him. Lennie was “snorting into the water like a horse” which also proves his uncivilized manner. Furthermore, Lennie’s animal instincts prevent him from being able to learn. Like wild animals, he is uncontrollable and unpredictable; though he may be trained and taught not to do some things, they are bound to commit the same mistakes over and over again. Steinbeck states that George had “hopelessly” warned Lennie about the water he was drinking, proving that George’s warnings will not affect Lennie in any way as he is bound to forget—he will never learn. Not only is Lennie’s mental behaviour similar to an animal, but it is also similar to a child. Lennie is described to be “puzzled” and thathe “giggled happily” at some parts of their conversation, showing that he is unaware and immature. He constantly forgets everything very easily and doesn’t sense...
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