In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, is Lennie guilty or not and how you know?
I assume that you are asked whether Lennie is guilty of killing Curley's wife. That would be an interesting question to modern lawyers to debate in a courtroom, since Lennie is mentally challenged and a modern lawyer might argue this as a mitigating circumstance.
Is Lennie guilty of killing Curley's wife? Well, yes, he does kill her. After she invites Lennie to touch her hair, his "fingers closed on her hair and [he] hung on." She screams for him to stop, but "Lennie’s other hand closed over her mouth and nose." Curley's wife struggles to escape and struggles to cry out, but "He shook her then, and he was angry with her." Additionally, he tells her to stop yelling. Finally,
"he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck."
After Curley's wife exhibits no signs of life, Lennie admits that he has "done a bad thing. I done another bad thing.” Thus, he had confessed to his actions and he does seem to be aware of right and wrong.
So, although Lennie is mentally impaired and the panic of Curley's wife does cause him to become confused, Steinbeck's text seems to indicate that an enraged Lennie does use deadly force against her and that he did realize that he had done something wrong. Unfortunately, as sympathetic as we may feel toward Lennie, he does appear to be guilty of killing Curley's wife (although I would imagine that in a modern trial Lennie would not be convicted of first-degree murder).