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What does the mouse that Lennie carries in his pocket symbolize in Of Mice and Men?At...

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angelofgrace | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:59 AM via web

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What does the mouse that Lennie carries in his pocket symbolize in Of Mice and Men?

At the beginning of the book Lennie always carries a mouse in his pocket, and I was wondering what that symbolized.

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mstokes | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted December 30, 2009 at 2:09 AM (Answer #1)

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Lennie, we quickly realise, is huge and unaware of his own strength, which frequently gets himself into trouble. He loves animals. The mouse may be a symbol of his simplicity and his otherness. After all, few grown men carry mice in their pockets. We learn that he constantly kills the mice he so loves, by literally "loving them to death" and this angers George.

The mouse image or symbol also introduces the theme which becomes the central one of the book. The inadvertent killing of the mice escalates into the killing, however, unwittingly of other larger animals such as the pup and later of course of the woman, Curly's wife, in the barn.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 1, 2010 at 10:08 AM (Answer #2)

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Lennie carries a mouse in his pocket for comfort. He likes to "pet soft things" and is soothed by the feel of fur. It is perhaps linked to his memories of his Aunt Clara who used to give him pieces of velvet to stroke.

Lennie always accidentally kills the mice he has, which foreshadows his final action of killing Curley’s wife. The mouse represents frailty, weakness and comfort, all of which we see in Curley’s wife, and part of the charm which captivates Lennie.

The use of the mouse also ties in with the title taken from the Robert Burns Poem alluding to the fact that the best laid plans of mice and men often go wrong.

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