What is an example of compassion with George and Lennie in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men?

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The ultimate act of compassion in this story (though many readers have judged it an ambiguous one) is that which George grants by killing Lennie . Steinbeck analogizes this with the shooting of Candy's dog earlier in the story and with Candy regretfully saying that he should have been the...

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The ultimate act of compassion in this story (though many readers have judged it an ambiguous one) is that which George grants by killing Lennie. Steinbeck analogizes this with the shooting of Candy's dog earlier in the story and with Candy regretfully saying that he should have been the one to take care of his own dog in this manner—by ending the dog's suffering himself.

George has been compassionate to Lennie all along by taking care of him and serving as his companion as they travel from farm to farm seeking work, since Lennie is unable to manage on his own. The knowledge that things would have been far worse for Lennie had the farmhands carried out a vigilante arrest of him (and then lynched him for killing Curley's wife) leads George to take his own friend's life.

Apart from the compassion shown by those in the story to one another, Steinbeck's own point of view toward his characters is one of great compassion. The general situation in which rural laborers of the period find themselves, and the racial discrimination of the time (and later) shown in the isolation of Crooks, is depicted with great sensitivity by Steinbeck. Even women's issues are treated with compassion, as Curley's wife is portrayed as a lonely, neglected woman and is emblematic of the status of women in that era.

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Ironically, the most striking example of compassion the George offers to Lennie is taking his life at the end of the novel. Obviously, George's constant care for Lennie throughout the novel is one example of his compassion (even though Lennie has been run out of Weeds for assaulting a woman sexually).

George's killing of Lennie at the end of the novel has been foreshadowed by the killing of Candy's old dog earlier in the novel. Now, in the novel's final chapter, George does for/to Lennie what Candy himself could not bear to do for his old dog (Carlson shoots the dog with his Luger). George kills Lennie with the same weapon that Carlson used to shoot Candy's dog.

After George kills Lennie, Slim acknowledges that George had to take the action he did:

           Slim said, “You hadda, George. I swear you hadda. Come on with me.”

           He led George into the entrance of the trail and up toward the highway.

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