How is courage portrayed in Of Mice and Men?

Courage is portrayed in Of Mice and Men by Crooks standing up to Curley's wife. Crooks resents the fact that Curley's wife can just come into his room whenever she feels like it and invade his personal space. Crooks challenges her about this, which is a very brave thing to do in this segregated society, given that Crooks is black and Curley's wife is white.

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Curley's wife, like Crooks, is very lonely at the ranch, albeit for different reasons. The only woman on the ranch, and trapped in a loveless, unsatisfying marriage, she's forever hanging around the men's bunkhouse. On this particular occasion, she pops into Crooks's room, ostensibly to look for her husband, but...

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Curley's wife, like Crooks, is very lonely at the ranch, albeit for different reasons. The only woman on the ranch, and trapped in a loveless, unsatisfying marriage, she's forever hanging around the men's bunkhouse. On this particular occasion, she pops into Crooks's room, ostensibly to look for her husband, but in actual fact, because she's lonely and just needs someone to talk to.

Crooks is not best pleased to see Curley's wife. As well as knowing that she's trouble with a capital T, he deeply resents the fact that Curley's wife has invaded his personal space. It may not be much, but Crooks' room is his home, and he doesn't take kindly to strangers showing up in his home whenever they feel like it.

Crooks confronts Curley's wife, telling her that she has no right to be in his place. This is a very brave—and dangerous—thing to do. In this deeply segregated society it's considered taboo for an African-American to talk back to a white person. At that time, it was quite common for African-Americans to be lynched for such offenses against white supremacy. They were supposed to be demure and respectful towards their alleged racial superiors.

In challenging that code, however briefly, Crooks is displaying enormous courage. But as Curley's wife angrily reminds Crooks, she can arrange to have him lynched. And so Crooks has no choice but to back down at once.

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Steinbeck depicts courage through George's decision to travel the country looking for work with Lennie, who continually jeopardizes their safety and freedom. George could easily leave Lennie and attempt to save up money on his own to purchase an estate but chooses to remain with his close friend despite Lennie's propensity to cause trouble. For example, George continues to remain Lennie's partner following the incident in Weed, which endangered their well-being and could have led to their arrest. George's love for Lennie influences him to make the courageous decision to continue traveling the country with Lennie. George also demonstrates courage by confiding in Slim regarding the incident in Weed. George's decision to tell Slim about Lennie's checkered past is a courageous act. George once again displays courage by telling Lennie to fight back after Curley punches him in the face. Although George understands that Lennie could easily kill Curley, he demonstrates courage by instructing Lennie to fight back. The most prominent example of courage in the novella takes place at the end of the story when George decides to shoot Lennie in the back of the head. George realizes that Curley's lynch mob will brutally torture Lennie, which is why he shoots Lennie as an act of mercy. By killing his best friend out of mercy and necessity, George displays a tremendous amount of courage.

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An example of courage is when George shoots Lennie in order to save him from law enforcement.

George travels with Lennie everywhere, taking care of him.  Lennie is large and mentally challenged, and has trouble remembering things.  George protects him, makes sure they stay employed, and tries to keep him out of trouble.  He enjoys taking care of Lennie, because it is important to him to have someone to take care of.  He even spins a yarn of a fantastic dream for him, involving saving up enough money to buy a ranch with rabbits (Lennie likes soft things).

When Lennie gets into trouble in Weed, George is able to help them recover and get another job.  Soon, they know they are in danger when they see Curley’s wife and Curley.  She is a tease, and he wants a fight.  Lennie accidentally kills a puppy, and then makes a bigger mistake.  Trying to touch Curley’s wife’s hair, he somehow breaks her neck.  When George finds out what happens, he knows what he needs to do.  As much as he cares for Lennie, he is a danger to society.  Also, Lennie would not understand why he was in trouble, and being arrested and tried would be terrible for him.

"I should of knew," George said hopelessly. "I guess maybe way back in my head I did." (ch 5)

George does not think Lennie can survive alone after he runs away.  He knows he has to go find him, and put him out of his misery.  George finds Lennie hiding in the bush, like he told him to.

Lennie said, "I thought you was mad at me, George."

"No," said George. "No, Lennie. I ain't mad. I never been mad, an' I ain't now. That's a thing I want ya to know." (ch 6)

It took a lot of courage for George to shoot Lennie after taking care of him for so long, but he had to do it.  He acts for the greater good, and for Lennie's best interest rather than his personal feelings.  In shooting Lennie, he is destroying both Lennie's dreams and his own.

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