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Who is the most noble character in Of Mice and Men and why?

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lisyl11 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 21, 2010 at 11:02 AM via web

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Who is the most noble character in Of Mice and Men and why?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 21, 2010 at 11:34 AM (Answer #1)

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This would certainly be an opinionated answer by whichever editors you receive answers from because noble is a distinction given by a human based on factors that one considers of high moral value.

I find George to be the most noble, but many would say he murdered his best friend. What qualifies him for the distinction of nobility is three-fold:

  1. He sacrifices his life: George has repeatedly mentioned that he can't get a girl with Lennie around. Maybe that is a crutch for other reasons, but he has truly given up the chance to build his own future business, relationship, or family.
  2. He defends and protects his friend: Noble is a word often used to describe those who serve and protect. George doesn't do this militaristically, but as a psychological master. He positions Lennie away from circumstances that would cause him eventual disaster as much as he can.
  3. He makes tough decisions correctly: It was right to take the life of his best friend in this circumstance. Lennie died peacefully, but had Curley been given the shot, he would have brutally tortured Lennie.

George is the most notable character to me in terms of nobility for all of these reasons, but Of Mice and Men certainly contains other worthy characters.

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rshaffer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted September 21, 2010 at 12:16 PM (Answer #2)

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     Most would consider George the most noble in Of Mice and Men,but I would like to offer another character, Slim.  Although Steinbeck does not give even time to Slim as he does other characters, Slim's perceptions on each character and each event in the novel.  Slim is aware of the special relationship between George and Lennie, which explains his reaction to George killing Lennie at the end of the story.  In addition, Slim gained favor with Lennie when he gave Lennie a pup.

     Slim is also the one who tells George to stay away from Curly's wife because he is perceptive of he relationship between Curly and his wife.  He knows if the men talk to her, Curly will come looking for trouble.  The men follow Slim's lead and ignore Curly's wife even though Slim is large enough and strong enough to beat up Curly.

     Slim is also the foreman on the ranch.  He is the men look to him for guidance and listen to what he tells them to do.  He does his job exceedingly well and is an extremely skilled craftsman.

     Slim is also described as having "God-like eyes," a characteristic of a noble person.  In addition, he is simply an all around kind and caring person who serves as a hero to the story.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 22, 2010 at 5:31 AM (Answer #3)

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See, I have to go with Lennie. I say Lennie because the poor thing had not a single bad bone in that body. He was born innocent, lived his life in a child-like state of co-dependence and wonder, and saw no evil in anything. Everything he did was a consequence of the sad reality that he had to endure, which is that he was a man with a very low ability level of thinking. He was also an easy prey to society and yet he never lifted a finger to defend himself. To me, this lack of ability to defend themselves, and this consistent innocent and childlike behavior puts him in a position much similar to that of a following dog. And dogs are the noblest animals of them all.  This is where I get my rationale from, actually. But in all seriousness, I do respect very much the fact that his goodness and devotion to George, his excitement about their future plans, and his love for petting things. Maybe it is the childlike image I get of him when I think of Lennie what makes me feel very sad about him for he is indeed a loyal and sentimental companion. (Or maybe I got the whole 'noble' thing wrong in my head).

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