In Of Mice and Men, what does Lennie take out of his pocket that gets him yelled at by George?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first chapter, "Of Mice and Men," as George and Lennie walk to the ranch house where they will work, Lennie worries that he has lost his work card and puts his hand into his pocket.  But, George informs him that he himself has Lennie's card; still Lennie reaches in his pocket again and pulls out his hand.  With this action George detects that Lennie has something he is holding.  Lennie has a dead mouse:

It's on'y a mouse, George....Jus' a dead mouse, George.  I didn' kill it.  Honest! I found it. I found it dead.

Angrily, George takes it from Lennie and throws it away.  Since the title refers to Robert Burns's line "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," the significance of the dead mouse becomes apparent to the reader:  It foreshadows the line of Burns's poem as well as the death of another that Lennie simply wants to "pet" and the death of a simple creature in the novel.  George's throwing of the mouse is also significant as it suggests his discarding of the dream in the final chapter as well as the loss of his friend through his "discarding."