I think that there is a message being conveyed in Steinbeck's work about those who are seen as "different." The fact that Lennie occupies such a central role in the work reflects how Steinbeck wishes to being his voice from margin to center. Through this, the reader is able to understand the predicament of those viewed different and this ends up making Lennie as one who really does not have a mental handicap, but simply one who is "different." It is in this light that I think Steinbeck is trying to bring out a message about the solidarity formed between human beings. I don't think that Steinbeck's primary motivation is to transmit a message about people with so- called "mental handicaps." Rather, I think that he is seeking to bring out a message that conveys how individuals need to see one another in a format where some level of community is evident between people. The need for solidarity is something that is brought out by the novel and the ending with it. Steinbeck makes the point that people have to be able to work together, bond with one another and ensure that these connections help individuals to view consciousness in a collective format. This would include all people, where all voices are validated. In this, Steinbeck wishes to bring out a sense of the inclusive as opposed to the exclusive.