If you were a lawyer and Lennie was your client, how would you make your case for his innocence in the killing of Curley's wife?

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In chapter five, Lennie is inside the barn lamenting the accidental death of his puppy while the rest of the workers are outside playing horseshoes. Lennie is worried about George becoming mad when he discovers that he accidentally killed the puppy and thinks he will lose the opportunity to tend...

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In chapter five, Lennie is inside the barn lamenting the accidental death of his puppy while the rest of the workers are outside playing horseshoes. Lennie is worried about George becoming mad when he discovers that he accidentally killed the puppy and thinks he will lose the opportunity to tend rabbits in the future. While Lennie is contemplating George's reaction, Curley's wife enters the barn and attempts to strike up a conversation with him. Despite Lennie's attempts to avoid Curley's wife, she stays in the barn and complains about her unhappy marriage. When she learns that Lennie enjoys petting soft things, she instructs him to stroke her hair. Lennie follows her directions and begins roughly petting her hair. When Curley's wife attempts to pull away, Lennie panics and tightens his grip. Curley's wife proceeds to struggle and Lennie accidentally breaks her neck while attempting to silence her.

If one were a lawyer arguing on Lennie's behalf, it would be wise to describe Lennie's intellectual disability. One could argue that Lennie's lack of intelligence directly relates to his lack of self-control. The argument could be made that Lennie was simply reacting out of fear and not in a malicious manner. Essentially, Lennie was too unintelligent to understand the gravity of the situation or control his body. One could also place the blame on Curley's wife. Lennie made numerous attempts to distance himself from her but she remained in the barn and manipulated him into touching her hair. Lennie had no forethought or intention of harming Curley's wife and desired to be left alone. One could also argue that Curley's wife provoked Lennie by raising her voice and thrashing her head. While Lennie would more than likely be charged with involuntary manslaughter, his intellectual disability might lighten his sentence.

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In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Lennie kills Curley's wife in chapter five. Even the best of lawyers would have a difficult time defending Lennie's behavior, but certainly the man's mental condition would be used in his defense. The death is most certainly accidental, since we know that Lennie often doesn't know his own strength. It takes several men to restrain him after he crushes Curley's hand in chapter three. He kills his puppy at the beginning of chapter five and he is positively deadly to any other small animal he gets his hands on. George realizes that the death of Curley's wife, no matter how inadvertent, is the last straw. He is probably right in putting Lennie down, just as Carlson had put down Candy's dog. In the 1930s, Lennie would have been chained up, thrown in a cell and treated harshly. He would not have understood his treatment.

A good lawyer would most certainly try to plead insanity. He would argue that Lennie was mentally challenged and wasn't in control of his actions. The lawyer might use psychologists to diagnose Lennie with a mental disease. Doctors could administer a test (such as the "irresistible impulse" test) which would prove that Lennie suffered from a mental disorder preventing him from appreciating the criminality of his act.

This defense may work because the reader knows that Lennie has a problem. He can only remember things that George tells him. He is obsessed with petting soft things. He also suffers from hallucinations like the ones in chapter six when he is berated for his conduct by an imaginary rabbit and his Aunt Clara, summoned from the dead. The delusions never focus on what he actually did wrong, but on how George will react. Although this defense could very well succeed, Lennie would probably still be locked up. At the time of the story, it would not have been a pleasant experience for Lennie as mental hospitals were often primitive and brutal.

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