The EndingConsider the ending of the novel Of Mice and Men, do you think George did the right thing (killing Lennie)?

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There was no "right thing to do" at the end. Lennie put himself in a very difficult situation. He was being chased with a gun by the murdered woman's husband.

My personal reading is that, as sad as it is and as innocent and both George and Lennie seem to be, George is partly responsible for the death of Curley's wife. Killing Lennie is a small mercy (because it saves Lennie from the terrible face-off with Curley) and it is an earned punishment for both Lennie and George.

George knew that Lennie was capable of committing murder - he'd done it already in Weed - yet George protected Lennie and helped him to escape punishment. This time around, George has to exact the punishment for his part in making this second murder possible.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I think that by his death, Lennie got closer to the dream than anyone else in the novel, as he is visualising the farm as he is shot-

Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now."(ch6)

In this respect, he is freed from the constraints which have fettered him (and George) for so long: the poverty, the endless moving, the challenges of mental weakness. Although I can see that killing another person is not really a decision another human being should make, I feel that George's act was a courageous and humane gesture.

 

 

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One could argue that killing another is never the right thing to do.  When you take someone else's life, you are committing an irrevocable act.  Since you do not have the right to give life, you should take it under no circumstances.  George was giving Lennie a mercy killing, but would Lennie have suffered in prison?  Maybe not.  If Lennie was going to be executed, would it have been painful?  Likely not.  So George was really only saving himself.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Steinbeck creates in his final scene a moral dilemma for the reader--an almost Dr. Kevorkian situation.  Within the fictional world the decision is easier for the reader, of course....

Having been described in anthropomorphic terms (paws for hands, shuffling bear-like), readers may comfortable feel that George's killing is a mercy killing, just as one's shooting a damaged or ailing animal is an act of mercy.  But, at the same time, readers wonder what will become of George.  Perhaps he will have to go on the lam as Tom Joad of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath does, even though his act was necessary, too.

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

Posted on

I personally love this ending. Although taking the life of another human being is legally and ethically wrong, not to mention it is playing God, I still think George did the right thing for three reasons:

1. If George didn't kill him, Curley would. Curley was fired up and had the intention to make him die a slow, torturous, and painful death. Curley had vengence running through his veins and would have expressed it somehow.

2. George created the most painless death possible. Remember the references to where the dog needed to be shot so it wouldn't feel a thing? George heeded that advice and took it to heart on behalf of Lennie. Likewise, George painted a picture of what they dreamed together before he killed Lennie making sure that his last thoughts were the most pleasant thoughts as possible.

3. If the law actually had the opportunity to deal with Lennie instead of Curley, he would have ended up either in jail where people would not understand his ways, or in a mental institution where medicine regarding mental health was not anywhere near where it is today.

amcsdasd's profile pic

amcsdasd | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

There was no "right thing to do" at the end. Lennie put himself in a very difficult situation. He was being chased with a gun by the murdered woman's husband.

My personal reading is that, as sad as it is and as innocent and both George and Lennie seem to be, George is partly responsible for the death of Curley's wife. Killing Lennie is a small mercy (because it saves Lennie from the terrible face-off with Curley) and it is an earned punishment for both Lennie and George.

George knew that Lennie was capable of committing murder - he'd done it already in Weed - yet George protected Lennie and helped him to escape punishment. This time around, George has to exact the punishment for his part in making this second murder possible.

I feel sad that you claim to be a teacher, editor, debater, expert, and an educator, I truly beleive that they should at the very least make you pass some kind of test first. It clearly states that lenny simply touched the girl's dress because he felt it was soft and enjoyable as he like petting things, and that he hung on and did not let go because he was pannicking. It ALSO said that the woman was afraid and ran away because she thought she was being raped. Maybe I, an eigth grade student am not as intelligent as you, but i am still quite sure that it is not possible to come back from the dead to tell men you've been raped. The only murder lenny commited was that of curley's wife, not that the ''tart'' didn't deserve it, she knew herself lenny was crazy, and of his ridiculous strength, she said it herself, again IN the novel, which you should read sometime, and lenny told her several times to leave, lenny did not kill her on purpose, but she was warned in any case, and she stayed.

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