In Of Mice and Men, was George shooting Lennie justified?

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Although the answer to this question can be defended either way, I feel that George is justified in killing Lennie . Aside form the fact that Lennie has been and will continue to be a hindrance to George in both his personal and professional life, this is not George's main motivation for carrying out such a serious deed. Ultimately, George kills Lennie in a sense of mercy. Lennie, although he may have continued on living a happy, oblivious life, would most likely have found a much worse demise. Due to his lack of cognitive skills and his unbridled brute strength, Lennie continuously found himself...

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user3894898 | Student

He doesn't want anything too bad happening to Lennie, his aunt Clara told him to look after Lennie and to him he is. Lennie would not have survived around Curley. Lennie would much rather have been shot by George rather than Curley, his enemy, in which he broke is hand in a fight.

crystaltu001 | Student

I don't think it was completely all George's fault because lennie had a disability and he wouldn't fit in. When Lennie killed Curley's wife, Curley wanted to kill him  and make him suffer so George probably did it because he didn't want Lennie to suffer and get killed by the others so he did what he thought was right and killed lennie himself.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Lennie's disability doesn't fit the society . George thought that it was better for himself to kill Lennie instead of others. It was more humane. George was the only person that understands and knew Lennie. George thought that what he did was right.

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mcfox1948 | Student

George killed Lennie in order to save him for a worse fate. George loves Lennie, there is no doubt about that. However, Lennie is a menace to the society. He might be sweet and child-like, but he is also unintentionally extremely destructive. People who are that destructive, even by accident, have to be restrained. George could not tolerate the idea of anyone being cruel to Lennie, so he ended his life at the precise moment he happiest--talking of their farm and their rabbits he would care for. Yes, he was justified because it was the most merciful choice he could make.

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thelastman | Student

This question being asked without knowing the answer is a thousand times more disturbing than the story itself.  It amazes me how easily people are so easily influenced and brainwashed into submissive and dividing roles by concepts and ideas.  When your friend is in trouble and needs help, you help him.  You dont shoot him in the back of the head to get yourself out of a tough spot like a dispicable little coward.  George was not much wiser than Lennie, there were a dozen ways out of that situation and they never even attempted the most obvious one, to keep running.  Instead, George being greedy and selfish, they sit as the mob gains ground on them until George decides to shoot his friend in the back of the head, affraid he might lose the chance at acquiring his "beloved" farm.  It saddens me to see how many people identifies with the greedy, traitorous, cowardly actions of George.  If Steinbeck actually believes in this moral he is pushing thru this story, he is a man of extremely poor character; selfish, materialistic, and a terrible friend.

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kfranken | Student

I don't think it was purely a mercy killing preventing bad things to come for Lennie, it also was based on the fact Lennie did murder someone, albeit was it without him realising.

This fact makes the whole situation a lot more compliacted: would they have ran, Lennie would have been a danger for people (and animals for that fact). Would George have let them catch Lennie there would have been no understanding about his mental limitations and he would have suffered a terrible fait - the fact that euthanasia is best in this case is sharply illustrated by the euthanasia of the dog who is not even a danger for anyone, it is just smelly.

The book introduces us to Lennie being a nice person and ofcourse you would like him with the insight we get, but how we would judge him in real life is possibly different. And how people who have to fight for survivial in a harsh world where basic needs are limited would value his life is surely very different - even though all the characters, except Curley, are convinced he is a nice guy he basically is not worth fighting for when it can endager your own existance.

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pseudonymousboschfan | Student

George killing Lennie wasn't right! No person has the right to take another's life! Mercy and Killing should NEVER go together! His actions are condemned! He should not have taken law into his own hands.

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teena99 | Student

“Murder is the unlawful and malicious or premeditated killing of one human being by another,” [Webster's College Dictionary]

I don't think George killing Lennie could be considered malicious. And I don't believe it was planned, or premeditated, either. He did it out of desperation. He wanted to help his best friend, the only person in this world who understood him, even if it meant losing a part of himself. I think George died in a sense after shooting Lennie. Part of him was gone as well. But I think if George felt there was any other option, he wouldn't have killed Lennie.

I think it was necessary for George to kill Lennie. People do forget that George is only human too. Yes, it was murder, but it was still necessary.  THere would be no point of the story without it.

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cheeto | Student

I agree with you natashastein George only did what he thought was right there was nobody else in the world who understood Lennie as much as George did. If George thought there was nothing else he could do ,then there was nothing else he could do.What we have to remember here is that the other men are gaining on them they don't have time to run away.Even if they had,had time it was a never ending cycle of running away all of the time either George or Lennie would get tired of it sooner or later.It was better sooner when Lennie could still escape a "worst " death.

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roberta022469 | Student

George loved Lennie because, he would rather kill Lennie himself than see him get tortured

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ericka0 | Student

i think that what george did was riqht he only wanted to protect lennie. and i think that he did it out of love and concern. since lennie was his friend, he wanted to kill him instead of havinq the other workers kill him. so i think he did do it out of love and what he did was somehow riqht and somehow wronq.

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innachka82 | Student

George had no choice but to kill Lennie. Lennie would not live a happy life if he were placed in a loony bin. By killing Lennie George also freed Lennie as well as himself. Lennie no longer has follow George and live in fear of abandonment. George can live a more normal life now - he can keep jobs longer and maybe even have a girlfriend.

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natashastein | Student

 

            After Lennie accidentally killed Curley’s wife Mr. Milton insured him that he was not going to get in any trouble for the mistake he had made, though George knew he could face sever punishment. George did not mentally or physically abuse Lennie prior to his death. In fact he made Lennie’s last minutes on earth very peaceful by reminiscing of the life George wished he and Lennie could have had. He reminded Lennie about the struggles they had faced and how the full heartedly surpassed them. “guys like us got no family. They make a little stake an’ blow it. They ain’t got no body in the worl’ who gives a hoot in hell bout em’. But not us, I got you an’ you got me” said George passionately. pg.104 (John Steinbeck) Do these words sound like something a vicious killer would say? Or do they sound like the words of a true friend?

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natashastein | Student

 

            George knew the punishment and torture Lennie would have had to face when he was found. He grasped the emotional toll it would take on Lennie’s already damaged interior. “I’m gunna shoot that big bastard’s gut right out, I’m gunna get him.” Said Curley. Pg98 (Steinbeck) George felt that Lennie’s death was inevitable. Mr. Milton remembered the pain that Cady went through when he let some stranger kill his best friend.  Lennie was George’s best friend. Lennie died quickly and painlessly, opposed to the slow and cruel death that the ranch hands were seeking. George’s actions were fast but well sought out.

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natashastein | Student

If Lennie and George were to escape and flee to a new town Lennie could wind up hurting more people. Lennie not knowing his strength and abilities could hurt others quickly and unintentionally. The two men could have easily fled and we would not be here today. That is not the kind of man Mr. Milton is. George knew the reoccurring pattern in Lennie’s behaviour. George recalled when Lennie clung to a young girl when they resided in weed because he liked her dress. When she became fearful Lennie did not know what else to do but hold on. Luckily George was there to protect Lennie from himself and detach him from the young girl. All Lennie’s life he had been unintentionally harming animals and killing them unknowingly. Before the time of Lennie’s death he had become more careless and disregarding the lessons that George had taught him.

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natashastein | Student

            George repeatedly tried to teach Lennie the difference between right and wrong, but clearly Lennie never grasped the concepts. George had been taking care of Lennie since his aunt passed away and had always tried to look after him the best he knew how. George Milton should not be prosecuted for the unfortunate death of Lennie Small; the out come of Lennie’s death was beyond both George and Lennie’s control. George had wanted what was best for Lennie and tried his best to do so.

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natashastein | Student

George Milton should not be held responsible for the death of Lennie Small. The thought of George being convicted for his best friends murder is nearly as shattering as Lennie’s death it’s self.  Who truly is to say that George did not commit the ultimate sacrifice by mercifully killing his best friend, his brother.

 

   

 

           

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

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salty1234 | Student

He did the right thing... he knew if the others caught him they would have tortured him. Like the scene with the dog in the middle of the book, George realizes that Lennie will be the suffering dog and the workers will kill him. He kept Lennie from being tortured.

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mkcapen1 | Student

To determine if George was right to shoot Lenny, one must first ascertain if it is right to take another person's life regardless of the reason.  One must look at the dynamics of the relationship between Lenny and George.  George had been raised with Lenny and had always been his caretaker.  He had watched out for Lenny and sometimes been cruel to him.  The responsibility of caring for Lenny had been overwhelming for George.  However, they also had each other.  The type of work that they did usually led to a relatively isolated life as men moved from one farm to another. Relationships that formed were often evolved around drinking buddies and then moving on to find additional work.  Lenny and George had each other.  They knew the good and the bad about one another and accepted each other.  They kept a dream alive for each other.  This made them different from the other field hands in a positive way.

George killed Lenny out of love and compassion.  He knew that Lenny would not really understand the depth of what he had done.  George also knows that Lenny's mental disabilities limited his ability to understand his own actions.  He wants to protect Lenny from the terror and cruelty that would befall Lenny once Curly and the rest of the men caught up with Lenny.   George's actions are like euthanasia.  He wants to give his friend a peaceful death. 

Was George right in what he did?  Yes, he ended his friend's life so that he would not suffer at the hands of others.  Is taking a person's life right, this is a moral question only the individual can answer.

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darsk | Student

Some students in my class counter the mercy killing with the fact that patients in pain need to directly ask to be end their life. However, I highly doubt that Lennie had the mental capacity to realize it was an option. As an example, I used the final chapter, in which there were talking rabbits jumping out of his head.

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littlehic | Student

“Murder is the unlawful and malicious or premeditated killing of one human being by another,” [Webster's College Dictionary]

I don't think George killing Lennie could be considered malicious. And I don't believe it was planned, or premeditated, either. He did it out of desperation. He wanted to help his best friend, the only person in this world who understood him, even if it meant losing a part of himself. I think George died in a sense after shooting Lennie. Part of him was gone as well. But I think if George felt there was any other option, he wouldn't have killed Lennie.

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determinationarmy | Student

I believe that George did what he had to do. Yes, it was murder, and it was also sad, but if he would have let Lennie live Lennie would have just done something else in another town. I loved Lennie in this book, but the truth is in that fact Lennie was so mentally hanicapped there was nothing else George could have done. Like Candy's dog, Lennie was no good for himself or anyone around him. I do not believe in murder, and yes, that's what George did, but in a way George didn't have a choice.

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