In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, how does George change from the beginning of the book to the end?I know he shoots Lennie in the end.  But he may have done this to again take care...

In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, how does George change from the beginning of the book to the end?

I know he shoots Lennie in the end.  But he may have done this to again take care of Lennie by protecting him from the others getting to him first.  On the other hand, he may have killed him because he became a liability to him and his dream of owning a ranch of his own with land.  So must I assume the latter in order to explain that he did in fact change?

Expert Answers
kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arguably, George only changes when Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife. Up to this point, George remains loyal to Lennie, advocates on his behalf, and believes wholeheartedly in their dream of owning a ranch. George is so committed to the dream, for instance, that he brings other people on board, like Crooks.

The death of Curley's wife, however, brings this dream to a grinding halt because George knows that Curley will punish Lennie for his role in her death. As a result, the dream can no longer survive in its original form.

As you rightly say, George only kills Lennie because he wants to save him from the brutality of the mob, which is led by Curley. Killing Lennie is, therefore, a kindness. Moreover, it provides proof that George does not really change throughout the novel since his devotion and commitment to Lennie, the central aspects of his character, never disappear.

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, George does change by the end of the book.  In the beginning, George is like Lennie in that he believes in their dream of owning their own land someday.  He and Lennie have created a very clearly pictured plot of land and what they will do with their own piece of heaven on earth.  Lennie, who is mentally challenged, even remembers that they will be raising rabbits there so that Lennie will have the soft things to touch that he loves.  George too has his own pictures of owning that dream land.  When Lennie gets into trouble again, George has to give up his dream of owning his own land and resign himself to loneliness.  Lennie, despite their differences, was George's  friend, and without Lennie, George will be like all the rest of the migrant workers--alone with no dreams but the reality of life as a migrant worker.