'of mice and men' ends where it begins, with george and lennie alone by the pool. What is your response to the ending of the novel?Include feelings about georges decision to shoot lennie and how...

'of mice and men' ends where it begins, with george and lennie alone by the pool. What is your response to the ending of the novel?

Include feelings about georges decision to shoot lennie and how steinbeck prepares us for the ending.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It must have been very hard for George to shoot Lennie, especially because Lennie trusted him completely. George was not only destroying Lennie's life but destroying his dream of owning a little bit of land and being freed from wage slavery. George was destroying his own dream at the same time. No doubt he would go through the rest of his life as a bindle stiff, an unskilled farm worker with no home. When he got old he might end up like Candy and Crooks.

George makes the decision to kill Lennie when he sees the dead body of Curley's wife in the barn and understands that Lennie has become a menace to society. The incident in Weed upset George considerably. Lennie had always been interested in petting little animals, but in Weed he had shown an interest in a girl--and here in the barn he had actually killed a girl. The fact that George steals Carlson's gun proves that he intended to kill Lennie when he found him in his hiding place by the river. He had no intention of helping Lennie escape, as he had up in Weed. He had given up on Lennie.

The whole story builds up to the scene in which George kills his best friend. This is what makes that scene so emotionally moving. Steinbeck establishes that the two men have been together for a long time and are dependent on each other for companionship. They share the same dream of independence. The setting which is used in the opening and closing chapters emphasizes the loneliness and isolation of human existence. When George kills his best friend he will be all alone in the world and his life will be meaningless--nothing but eat, sleep, and work. The angry mob searching for Lennie in the darkness seems to symbolize the struggle for existence that every man is doomed to participate in and doomed to lose.

George and Lennie are memorable characters. They seem like real people and not just characters in a book or a play. Steinbeck was a great writer because he had a great deal of compassion for humanity without being a sentimentalist.

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