In "Of Mice and Men," what is George or Lennie's epiphany, or their insight to the world?please help.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Of Mice and Men," after Lennie tries to quiet Curley's wife from screaming when he strokes her hair too hard, he inadvertently breaks her neck as he struggles with her to cover her mouth.

When she didn't answer nor move he bent closely over her.  He lifted her arm and let it drop.  For a moment he seemed bewildered.  And then he whispered in fright, "I done a bad thing.  I done another bad thing.'

With the death of Curley's wife at the hands of Lennie comes the death of the dream of Lennie and George who witnesses the dead girl. With this death comes George's epiphany:

George said softly, '--I think I knowed from the first.  I think I knowed we'd never do her.  Ue usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would.'

Meanwhile, Lennie runs for the brush and waits for George as he has been taught to do if he does a "bad thing."  As he waits for George, Lennie experiences an epiphany. Through the voice of his Aunt Clara, Lennie reasons that George "ain't gonna let me tend no rabbits now."  Lennie realizes that things are different.  A rabbit appears to Lennie and tells him,

'He's gonna beat hell outa you with a stick, that's what he's gonna do....he's sick of you...He's gonna go away an' leave you.'

But, when George appears, and Lennie asks George if he is going to beat him, but George says he will not, Lennie becomes happy again as George recites the dream, instructing Lennie to look across the lake so he can envision it.  Having forgotten his "bad" deed, Lennie giggles with happiness.  George shoots Lennie as the men are heard approaching.  Perhaps at that moment Lennie knows the epiphany was true, after all.