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Is Lennie a good person?In Of Mice and Men why would you consider Lennie to be a good...

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perlk25 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 27, 2010 at 2:54 PM via web

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Is Lennie a good person?

In Of Mice and Men why would you consider Lennie to be a good person? Even if he did something wrong by killing Curley's wife, can you still be a good person if you don't know right from wrong? Can you please explain indepth for me?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 27, 2010 at 2:59 PM (Answer #2)

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To me, Lennie is like a little kid.  By that, I mean that I agree with you that he has a hard time really understanding what's right and wrong.  In addition, he has a hard time understanding what the results of his actions are likely to be.

When little kids do stuff that's wrong, we don't say that they're bad people.  Instead, we take their immaturity into consideration.

To me, you need to consider what Lennie's intentions are.  Basically, I think he has good intentions and does not mean to hurt anyone.  This means that he is a good person within his own limitations.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 27, 2010 at 2:59 PM (Answer #3)

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Lennie got in trouble more than once because he didn't know his own strength, and because he didn't have the mental and emotional capacity to always know what he was doing.  That doesn't make him a bad person, just an unfortunate one.  Certainly, the things he had done were bad - from injuring Curley's hand (whether or not "he had it coming" as Slim said), to scaring the woman up in Weed, to killing Curley's wife.  There's no way to argue these are "good" things, really, but to describe Lennie as a bad person seems inaccurate given who he was and the condition he lived with.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 27, 2010 at 3:08 PM (Answer #4)

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In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Lenny is a walking, talking, pet-killing Id.  As the previous editor said, he's an overgrown kid.  More, he's a beast.  Steinbeck uses anthropomorphism throughout the novel to compare men to animals (Lennie is a bear; George is a fox; Candy is a old dog; Crooks is a humpback mule, etc...).

Alone, he is dangerous, though I wouldn't call him evil.  He kills animals (mice, puppy) and humans (Curley's wife) and crushes Curley's hand.  The killing, ironically, is more innocent that the fighting; he kills accidentally.  He is instructed to crush Curley's hand by George.

George is Lennie's Superego.  He helps Lennie stay out of trouble and to fight back for himself.  Without George, Lennie gets in trouble in Weed and the ranch along the Salinas River.

I will say this: Lennie is a good worker.  Slim says he's never seen such a good bailer and field worker.  Lennie can do the work of two men.

So, in the company of working men, namely George, Lennie is a good person, a valuable and reliable worker.  Alone, with an appetite for soft things, Lennie is a dangerous child with beast-like strength.

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arzuka | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted April 28, 2010 at 12:27 AM (Answer #5)

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Just like that time Lennie frightened the woman with the red dress or when he accidently killed the mouse, Lennie does not have any ill intentions when he murders Curley's wife. So Lennie's killing could be justified as manslaughter..And in a way accusing Lennie of murder would be like accusing a three-year-old who shot dead his younger brother while playing with a gun. Lennie clearly did not want to kill Curley's wife and his intention was purely to stop her from making loud noise that would get him introuble. I would say that Lennie is not responsible and is therefore 'good'.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:31 PM (Answer #6)

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Of diminished intelligence, Lennie is clearly a beast who considers his urges first. When he is angered, he kills a mouse in Chapter 1.  Chapter 3 has another instance of his primary urge of self-preservation, Lennie, after crushing Curley's hand, asks George, "I can still tend the rabbits, George?"

In Chapter 5, when Lennie kills the puppy, he says,
"George ain't gonna let me tend no rabbis now" demonstrating concern only for himself.  Later, when Curley's wife makes too much noise as he pets her and struggles, Lennie tells her,

"Oh, Please don't do none of that..Gerge gonna say I done a bad thing.  He aint gonna let me tend no rabbits."

He moved his hand a little and her hoarse cry came out.  Then Lennie grew angry.  'Now don't,' he said.  ' don't want you to yell.  You gonna get me in trouble jus' like George says you will.  Now don't you do that."

As she continues to struggle, Lennie "shook her then, and he was angry with her. 'Don't you go yellin,"...and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish.

Lennie is clearly underdeveloped both mentally and emotionally, and cannot truly be judged in terms of good or bad since he merely acts on animal urges.

 

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 17, 2010 at 5:29 PM (Answer #7)

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It's hard not to like Lennie, isn't it?  That's surprising, considering he is a killer--someone who kills--and we generally don't like people who do that.  What we love is Lennie's heart; it's his body which betrays him.

He's so excited about the farm and the rabbits; he just loves his ketchup; he dunks his whole head in the water to take a drink--what's not to love?!  Unfortunately, he can't control his own strength and that's what gets him in trouble.  Despite that, Lennie is a character no one wants to see die, even for committing murder.

Lori Steinbach

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:49 AM (Answer #8)

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I think Lennie is a good person.  He doesn't understand the possible consequences of his actions, and all he is really trying to do is find a connection with someone.  He is fascinated by soft things, possibly as a buffer to all the harsh words and actions that come his way on a regular basis.  He seems to be searching for a sense of peace but can never find it until George kills him.

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hadley818 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 16, 2010 at 3:35 PM (Answer #9)

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Lennie is neither a good  person nor a bad person. He doesn't understand right from wrong, but it's not his fault. Like the other posters said, he is dangerous and he cannot be trusted, but he does have a childlike innocence. He never meant to harm anyone and he was always very sorry once he realized that his actions could not be reversed. On the other hand, Lennie was mainly sorry for himself because he was worried that George would not let him take care of the rabbits.  Lennie is a victim of a society that belittles people who are physcially or mentally handicapped. It's very hard to pass judgment on Lennie when you consider his situation.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 27, 2012 at 7:59 AM (Answer #10)

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This is a very interesting question and a difficult one.

Certainly, Lennie is presented in a sympathetic light. He is a child in a man's body. He is outmatched by the world. It's hard to judge him as we would judge a person of average intelligence. Yet, there is a good point made above, particularly in the 6th and 7th posts, about Lennie's violent tendencies.

If he is a good person, he is a deeply flawed one.

If Lennie is a bad person, it is attributable to his lack of mental faculty and lack of emotional control. To put it another way, he can be construed as being a bad person because he is what he is - a child in a man's body.

There is a fear that drives Lennie above all else and that is to lose his one friend the way he lost the rest of his family. Driven by this fear, Lennie's moral code is skewed, to put it mildly. Even if he didn't intend to kill Curley's wife, he did force her to stop speaking/yelling, laying hands on her in violence so that he could maintain his one friendship.

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athawa | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted February 26, 2012 at 8:53 AM (Answer #11)

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We all know that lennie  is a child in a man's body. Alone, he is dangerous, though I wouldn't call him evil.  He kills animals (mice, puppy) and humans (Curley's wife) and crushes Curley's hand.  The killing, ironically, is more innocent that the fighting; he kills accidentally.  He is instructed to crush Curley's hand by George.and we also know that George is Lennie's Superego so what ever george tells him he will do it and that tells us that lennie harmful person in a way that committee him to do or in way that helps him get through life

 

To me, Lennie is like a little kid.  By that, I mean that I agree with you that he has a hard time really understanding what's right and wrong.  In addition, he has a hard time understanding what the results of his actions are likely to be. When little kids do stuff that's wrong, we don't say that they're bad people.  Instead, we take their immaturity into consideration. To me, you need to consider what Lennie's intentions are.  Basically, I think he has good intentions and does not mean to hurt anyone.  This means that he is a good person within his own limitations.

 

 

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