George is certainly guilty of premeditated murder and would get a long sentence if the law took the trouble to prosecute him. I think Steinbeck shows that the law enforcement officials would not take much trouble, or go to much expense, to investigate the death of a bindle stiff in...
George is certainly guilty of premeditated murder and would get a long sentence if the law took the trouble to prosecute him. I think Steinbeck shows that the law enforcement officials would not take much trouble, or go to much expense, to investigate the death of a bindle stiff in those days--especially since Lennie was bound to get killed by somebody. Steinbeck works out the plot so that the murder weapon does not belong to the man who uses it. Carlson owns the Luger, but everybody assumes that Lennie stole it when he fled the ranch. Carlson is in the clear because he is with all the other men when the shot is fired. Carlson hands George the perfect alibi, which is that Lennie had the gun and George took it away from him and shot him in self-defence. The fact that Lennie is such a powerful man would justify George using a weapon against him. It would look a little suspicious that Lennie was shot in the back of the head, but anything could happen if two men are struggling and a gun goes off. It is questionable whether George even thought about making up an alibi when he took Carlson's gun and went to meet his friend. Maybe he didn't care what happened to him. Or maybe he figured that shooting a fugitive who had supposedly murdered a girl would be considered justifiable. Carlson very conveniently provides George with a story, and George just accepts it as the truth which will be related to the police.
"Did he have my gun?"
"Yeah. He had your gun."
"An' you got it away from him and you took it an' you killed him?"
"Yeah. Tha's how."
Morally, I think most readers would agree that George is not guilty. Legally, he is guilty, but the D.A. might have a hard time proving it unless George confessed. Even if the D. A. suspected George of murder, he might decide to ignore the case because of the extenuating circumstances. Lennie had just killed an innocent girl in what appeared to be a rape attempt. Lennie was considered armed and dangerous. Lennie was a psychopath and a menace to society. He was better off dead.