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There are lots of examples of irony in Steinbeck's novel, but the most glaring one is the fact that George must kill Lennie because he loves him.
It is a heart-wrenching scene. Lennie thinks, in his naive, child-like way, that he and George are finally going to get the land with the rabbits for him to tend. Instead, George must kill him. He does so because there is no choice. It is either kill Lennie humanely and quickly or watch as the brutal posse tortures him first:
The voices came close now. George raised the gun and listend to the voices.
Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now."
"Sure Right now. I gotta. We gotta."
And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie's head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger."
Lennie's last name is small.
Lennie is a big, strong, powerful worker who doesn't use his physicality to harm people (on purpose).
The same gun that put Candy's dog out of its suffering and misery does the same for Lennie.
Everyone on the ranch feels really badly for Candy when his dog is shot, but no one except Slim feels that way for George after losing his best friend.
George spends the novel complaining about having to take care of Lennie but doesn't feel the real pain until Lennie is dead.
There are other smaller examples, too.
One other ironic situation is that during the Depression, many of the poorer people were forced out onto farms and were considered outcast. Yet, the ones on the farms didn't have to pay for food, land, housing, water, or any other conveniences. So, the outcasts became the prosperers.
There is a lot of irony in "Of mice and men". One of the irony can be how Lennie's last name is small.
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