What is Lennie's last name in Of Mice and Men?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter two of Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men, both George and Lennie, who are traveling together as migrant farm workers, reveal their last names in the conversation with the boss of the ranch where they have come to "buck barley." George is George Milton and Lennie is Lennie Small. Lennie's last name is ironic because Steinbeck characterizes Lennie as a physically imposing man, "a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders." In the discussion with the boss, George describes Lennie as "strong as a bull." Later in the same chapter the laborer Carlson makes a joke of Lennie's name when the men are introduced:

“Glad ta meet ya,” the big man said. “My name’s Carlson.”
“I’m George Milton. This here’s Lennie Small.”
“Glad ta meet ya,” Carlson said again. “He ain’t very small.” He chuckled softly at his joke. “Ain’t small at all,” he repeated. 

The small part of Lennie appears to be his level of intelligence. Because Lennie has trouble understanding his environment and his own strength, throughout the novel he does things that most adult men would not do, such as grabbing a girl's dress, killing small animals such as mice and puppies, and finally accidentally breaking a woman's neck.  

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lennie's last name is Small. Lennie's name is ironic because he is an extremely large and imposing individual. Despite being ironic, Lennie's last name is representative of his intellect. Lennie is intellectually limited and relies on his friend, George Milton, to take care of him and keep him out of trouble.

Lennie Small is also attracted to tiny, little things, such as mice and rabbits. Lennie's affinity for touching and feeling small, soft things gets him into trouble when he begins petting Curley's wife's hair. Lennie ends up pulling on her hair too hard, and Curley's wife panics. When she jerks her head to get away, Lennie accidentally breaks her neck and is forced to flee the ranch. Overall, Lennie Small's last name is ironic because of his massive size, yet represents the nature of his character.

parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ironically, Lennie's last name is Small. 

Remember that Lennie's superhuman physical strength and dwarfed mind lead to his downfall.

alexthegardner | Student

Small.

Lennie Small.