Is Lennie innocent?

Yes, Lennie is innocent. Although he seems to cause trouble of one kind or another wherever he goes, he never does it on purpose. Lennie doesn't act with malice, but due to his intellectual disabilities and his naivety, he often inadvertently causes harm.

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Lennie is innocent in that he's naive about the ways of the world. This is largely due to his intellectual disability, which makes it difficult for him to understand other people or anticipate the consequences of his actions. In particular, he struggles to comprehend that what is perfectly normal to...

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Lennie is innocent in that he's naive about the ways of the world. This is largely due to his intellectual disability, which makes it difficult for him to understand other people or anticipate the consequences of his actions. In particular, he struggles to comprehend that what is perfectly normal to him is completely unacceptable to other people.

Take the unfortunate incident in Weed, for example. Lennie didn't think he was doing anything wrong in touching the girl's pretty, red dress; he simply likes the feel of soft things. But the girl, as we can imagine, was absolutely terrified when he wouldn't let go of her dress, thinking that Lennie was some kind of pervert.

A more tragic example of Lennie's innocence is the incident with Curley's wife. Yet again, Lennie doesn't mean to cause harm, but unfortunately, that's precisely what he does, shaking her head so hard that her neck snaps. Of course, legally speaking, Lennie is guilty of manslaughter at the very least. Yet at the same time, he still remains innocent in the sense of being naive.

Once it's discovered that Lennie has accidentally killed Curley's wife, a lynch mob sets out to kill him. In the best case scenario, Lennie might avoid death but be turned over to authorities and locked up—a fate George believes Lennie wouldn't be able to cope with. Considering this, one could argue that in killing Lennie himself (and thus granting him a more humane death), George is in some way seeking to preserve his good friend's innocence. The death of Curley's wife is ultimately a turning point—not only for Lennie, but also for George, who finally seems to realize that the world is too harsh and unforgiving a place an innocent like Lennie.

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