Was George Right to Shoot Lennie in of Mice and Men?

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Was George right to shoot Lennie?

‘Of Mice and Men’ is a story based around the hardships of migrant workers in the Great Depression of 1920’s and 30’s America. The story follows the central protagonists, George and Lennie as they settle into life at a new ranch. However through the climax of the story Lennie ends up in a tough situation, leaving George to kill his only friend. The question is was George right to shoot Lennie in their situation? Or did he betray his friend in the worst way possible? This essay will explore the predicament of George and whether the actions he took were indeed the right actions.

Throughout the story we see the development of the characters friendship and it is quite clear that George takes the role of the protector. Lennie is portrayed to be dependent on George for even the simplest of things from spoons, to work cards. George who protects Lennie all through the novel with fights, bullying and general needs could be seen to be protecting Lennie in the only way possible from Curley. The incredible friendship of the two men seems to justify George’s decision, as the reader gets the impression that George understands Lennie and is therefore capable enough to make the crucial decision.

The whole novel uses a recurring theme of ‘the weak not surviving’ through symbolism. Firstly, with Candy’s old and ‘useless’ dog being shot, then with Slim’s puppies where he proclaims “I drowned four of ‘em right off”. Finally, then in the opening to chapter six where the water snake from chapter one is described as a ‘silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head’ representing the cyclical journey of the snake and how it couldn’t survive in such a harsh world, parallel to the story of weak and childlike Lennie. This suggests that it was Lennie’s destiny or fate to die so soon, and therefore George was right to do it.

However it could be argued that by George shooting Lennie he actually betrayed their friendship. In...
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