Homework Help

Discuss George's actions at the end of "Of Mice and Men". How can we justify what he...

user profile pic

cow | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 18, 2008 at 9:14 PM via web

dislike 2 like
Discuss George's actions at the end of "Of Mice and Men". How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?

Discuss George's actions at the end of "Of Mice and Men". How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?

5 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 19, 2008 at 1:39 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

The primary action of George's that we need to condemn is of course is killing of Lennie. If I had to justify it would point to the comments on responsibility mentioned earlier the book specifically the need to kill one's own dog also, I look at the fact that he stands as a kind of parent to let Lennie. Because Lennie cannot be responsible, George must be. It is a harsh code, one in which a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

 

If I had to condemn this action, I would make a simple argument. Lenny did not mean to hurt anyone. He is a gentle soul. If George weren't committed to a certain kind of lifestyle, Lenny wouldn't have had to shift context repeatedly. Lennie kills because George wants his own dream.

user profile pic

mshurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 19, 2009 at 3:21 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like
Discuss George's actions at the end of "Of Mice and Men". How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?

Discuss George's actions at the end of "Of Mice and Men". How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?

Killing is not hard to condemn, but mercy killing raises other issues. George kills Lennie himself because it is the only way he knows to save Lennie from tremendous fear and horrible pain. George knows that Curly intends not only to kill Lennie, but to shoot him in the "gut" so that he will suffer terribly before he eventually dies. George has no reason to believe that Curly won't succeed. He sees no other way to save his friend from a terrible death.

The manner in which George shoots Lennie shows George's feelings. He leads Lennie to look away so that he won't be afraid. He talks to him of their dream life to make sure that Lennie's last thoughts are happy and comforting. George shoots Lennie in the head to make sure that he dies at once without suffering. George's killing Lennie is an act of love.

user profile pic

gatetochrist | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted June 10, 2009 at 3:46 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like
Discuss George's actions at the end of "Of Mice and Men". How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?

Discuss George's actions at the end of "Of Mice and Men". How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?

Killing is not hard to condemn, but mercy killing raises other issues. George kills Lennie himself because it is the only way he knows to save Lennie from tremendous fear and horrible pain. George knows that Curly intends not only to kill Lennie, but to shoot him in the "gut" so that he will suffer terribly before he eventually dies. George has no reason to believe that Curly won't succeed. He sees no other way to save his friend from a terrible death.

The manner in which George shoots Lennie shows George's feelings. He leads Lennie to look away so that he won't be afraid. He talks to him of their dream life to make sure that Lennie's last thoughts are happy and comforting. George shoots Lennie in the head to make sure that he dies at once without suffering. George's killing Lennie is an act of love.



I raise the question: was it really necessary to kill Lennie?
In the beginning of the novel, it is said that Lennie and George were lynched out of Weed because Lennie had "raped" (touching the red dress) a woman there. They escaped together, in spite of the lynching squad of men and dogs that trailed them. Wouldn't it have been possible to do the same, if George had truly loved Lennie?

While it is true that the situation is altogether more severe, I don't see why George couldn't have tried to save Lennie, instead of shooting him in the back of the head.

user profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 23, 2009 at 5:22 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

The justification would be in preserving Lennie from a fate worse than death - incarceration in a lunatic asylum which would have meant a prolonged and torturous existence for Lennie. It is also obvious that Curley's plan to shoot Lennie 'in the guts' indicates that he planned for Lennie to suffer, which would be painful for Lennie as well as George.

It is also necessary to consider that killing Lennie can be seen as a selfish act by George. He is tired of having to move around and never reach the dream of raising enough cash to buy a farm and settle down. As other characters such as Crooks and Candy join the scenario, and Lennie yet again jeopardises their employment prospects, the likelihood of George and Lennie's dream being a workable reality becomes more distant. George has also made a connection with Slim, who appears at the end of the novel to be comforting George and ready to establish a bond which would be more equal than that which existed between George and Lennie.

Despite this I still believe that George does act with Lennie's best interests at heart, and the tenderness with which he re-creates the dream for Lennie one last time shows he does wish to have his friend in a 'better place'.

user profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 20, 2010 at 12:06 PM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

In the John Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men George knew what the future held for Lennie. He also knew that Lennie would never be able to understand what that entailed. Whatever the consequences of Lennie’s actions, George new his actions were the lesser of two evils.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes