In Of Mice and Men, how does the death of his puppy foreshadow Lennie's own death?

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The death of his puppy does not directly foreshadow Lennie's death, as the elements between Lennie's and its death are fairly dissimilar. The puppy's death does, however, predict the death of Curley's wife, who, like the puppy, is accidentally killed by Lennie. Because of Lennie's inadvertent crime, Curley swears vengeance and wants to kill him. To prevent his charge, friend, and confidante from facing the ignominy of Curley's savage retribution in which he would probably kill Lennie, George decides to kill Lennie himself.

It is in this indirect manner that the puppy's death predicts Lennie's death. Lennie's desire to touch soft things is what leads to the tragedy. He had been given the puppy by Slim, at George's request, so that he may exercise his fancy. Lennie does not know his own strength, though, and mistakenly kills the puppy. The incident happened in the great barn when he was alone with the puppy, stroking and bouncing it.

Lennie is later joined by Curley's wife, who starts a conversation with him. She confides in him about her loneliness. She also tells him about her lost opportunity to become an actress. She clearly desires company and is offended when Lennie tries to avoid talking to her. The two find common ground when they start talking about soft things. Curley's wife refers to her hair as soft and asks Lennie to feel it. Lennie starts stroking it. She tells him not to muss it up but Lennie, almost delirious with happiness, cannot stop himself, so she insists that he be careful or he'll mess up her hair.

Unfortunately, Lennie cannot stop himself, and Curley's wife becomes angry. She jerks her head sideways, and Lennie takes a firm hold of her hair. She cries out to Lennie to let go, and he goes into a panic. She tries to scream and Lennie closes her mouth, afraid of George's punishment. Their struggle ends in Lennie breaking her neck, just as he did the puppy's.

Lennie, who realizes he has created a terrible problem, flees to the spot he and George had agreed on if there should be trouble.

mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the death of Candy's dog is clearly meant to foreshadow Lennie's death, it could also be argued that the death of Lennie's puppy is used as foreshadowing as well. Like Candy's dog, Lennie's puppy is powerless to control his fate. The puppy is simply the victim of things which he cannot avoid. That he ended up in Lennie's hands was bad luck for him. Likewise, Candy's dog could not control his increasing age, falling victim to decline and the power of Carlson, who cared little that the dog was Candy's only friend.

Indeed, like the puppy, all the characters in Of Mice and Men are powerless to control their fates, and Lennie is no exception. Lennie cannot control his obsession with touching soft things and he cannot recognize or control his overpowering strength. That he is in the barn with Curley's wife during the fateful events of chapter five proves that, as with the puppy, fate is not kind to Lennie. Curley's wife provides an irresistible temptation which Lennie cannot avoid. Like the puppy, Lennie ends up accidentally killing Curley's wife, sealing his ultimate fate of being killed by George. In chapter six, George has no recourse but to kill Lennie and Lennie lacks the power to prevent his fate.

Read the study guide:
Of Mice and Men

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question