Irony In Of Mice And Men

Can you give an example of irony in Of Mice and Men?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Other examples:

Lennie's last name is small.
Lennie is a big, strong, powerful worker who doesn't use his physicality to harm people (on purpose).
The same gun that put Candy's dog out of its suffering and misery does the same for Lennie.
Everyone on the ranch feels really badly for Candy when his dog is shot, but no one except Slim feels that way for George after losing his best friend.
George spends the novel complaining about having to take care of Lennie but doesn't feel the real pain until Lennie is dead.
There are other smaller examples, too.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are lots of examples of irony in Steinbeck's novel, but the most glaring one is the fact that George must kill Lennie because he loves him.

It is a heart-wrenching scene. Lennie thinks, in his naive, child-like way, that he and George are finally going to get the land with the rabbits for him to tend. Instead, George must kill him. He does so because there is no choice. It is either kill Lennie humanely and quickly or watch as the brutal posse tortures him first:

The voices came close now. George raised the gun and listend to the voices.

Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now."

"Sure Right now. I gotta. We gotta."

And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie's head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial