Through the character of Lennie, Steinbeck makes a number of points about life and society.
Firstly, Steinbeck demonstrates society's ignorance toward those with a mental disability. At their last ranch, for example, Lennie was accused of rape after touching a girl's dress. It was not Lennie's intention to harm the girl in any way, he simply enjoys touching soft things. However, the people on the ranch were not prepared to accept Lennie's version of events, thus, prompting the men to flee.
Similarly, when Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, George must shoot him because he knows that Lennie will be lynched. Society, therefore, never gives Lennie the patience or understanding that he needs because of his mental disability.
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