How does John Steinbeck use language to present George's feelings after shooting Lennie (page 117-118) in Of Mice and Men?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When George shoots Lennie, Steinbeck describes him as feeling tired, mindless, and disconnected.  We feel the gravity of what he had to do.

George and Lennie had a very close relationship.  Unlike most migrants, George and Lennie have each other. They go around together, and George looks after Lennie.  When Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife because he wants to stroke her soft hair, George knows the humane thing is to shoot him before he gets caught.

Lennie has no idea he has done something wrong.  After shooting him, George feels terrible.

George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him, back up on the bank, near the pile of old ashes. (ch 6)

This simple description says a lot.  First of all, George looks at the gun.  It is as if he is blaming the gun, and not circumstnaces.  He throws it onto the ashes, which represent his lost dream.

Afterwards, George is described as tired.  He parrots the story of Lennie taking the gun mindlessly, and looks at his hand as if it was not a part of him.  He talks in a voice that is “almost a whisper.”  All of these things demonstrate the gravity of what he had to do, and how he lost a piece of himself in doing it.

All through the book, Steinbeck uses simple language to describe a simple relationship.  The beauty of the story is in the simplicity, and in the love George felt for Lennie and the sense of responsibility he had toward him and for him.  It is telling that the story ends here.  After George shoots Lennie, there is no more story to tell.