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How does Steinbeck convey Lennie's animal-like qualities?

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moneymilroy | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 1, 2013 at 2:30 AM via iOS

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How does Steinbeck convey Lennie's animal-like qualities?

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penelope3907 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 14, 2013 at 3:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Lennie is described as being animal-like several times in the first few pages of the book. Steinbeck writes that Lennie "walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws" and that he drinks "snorting into the water like a horse." When George demands Lennie hand over the dead mouse, Lennie brings it "slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball back to its master." By establishing the connection early on, Steinbeck emphasizes its importance.

Lennie is also associated with animals frequently: he carries mice in his pocket, wants to "tend the rabbits" on their future farm and can barely be kept away from his new puppy. Like the animals he is surrounded by, Lennie is innocent. He acts on instinct and therefore cannot really be held accountable for his actions. Like the mice and puppy, he is a victim of his own strength and of a cruel world. 

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