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What is the meaning and significance of the last line in Of Mice and Men:"Now what the...

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reshmarajagop... | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 8, 2010 at 7:42 AM via web

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What is the meaning and significance of the last line in Of Mice and Men:"Now what the hell do you suppose is eatin' them two guys?"

Curly and Carlson say this after George kills Lennie. What does it signify?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 8, 2010 at 8:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Clearly, Carlson's callousness, shown earlier in the novella, Of Mice and Men is again evinced in his remark to Curley after Carlson is too late to shoot Lennie with his Kruger.  Just as he has had no feeling for Curley's old dog, thinking nothing of shooting the animal because "he stinks," and is no longer useful, Carlson has no pity or feelings of any kind for George, who Slim consoles.  In fact, Carlson exemplifies what George has told Slim earlier in Chapter 3:  men who

"go around on the ranches alone....after a long time...get mean."

This disparity between the reactions of George, who has lost his  friend and the dream of their owning a ranch together, and Slim, who hears more than is said and understands so much with his "God-like eyes" is sharply apparent at the end of Steinbeck's novella.  The brutal and callous like Carlson and Curley will never comprehend the fulfillment of the fraternity of men that Lennie, George, and Candy understood.  And, because of this incomprehensible callousness, men will remain alienated and solitary.


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