What is Lennie's surname in Of Mice and Men?

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durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, traces the problems faced by George Milton and Lennie Small, two migrant workers who have recently secured a job on a ranch in California. Lennie's surname, Small, is significant because Lennie is anything but small.  He is "a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders." The irony of his name, as the story unfolds, is not lost on the reader.

Lennie is simple-minded, with a childlike understanding of life and needs George to constantly protect him, mostly from Lennie's own actions. Lennie has no capacity to understand his own strength and his actions, although misguided, are without any malice. He has dreams like anybody else and cannot understand how the puppy dies at his hand or how Curley's wife, whose hair he just wanted to stroke, dies because he thinks in terms of his intent not his physical ability.  

Therefore, the use of Small as Lennie's surname is applicable because it highlights the differences between people's intentions and their actions - often with disastrous results. 

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lg3746423's profile pic

lg3746423 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Lennie's surname is Small, which is ironic because of his immense strength. While he's a rather stable and unchanging character, he is important to the story because Steinbeck alludes to Lennie's demise early on in the story.

rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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In the book Of Mice and Men, Lennie's full name is Lennie Small. People say that the name is rather ironic, which I'm sure it was meant to be, because Lennie was a large, physically strong character. However, his character also had a small mind which led to the struggles both him and George had throughout the story. His name foreshadows what happens in the end.

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user396107's profile pic

user396107 | (Level 2) Honors

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In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the character Lennie has the surname Small. This name is ironic and this a literary technique. This is because Lennie in the novel is characterised as being large and muscular whereas his surname labels him as being small and insignificant, which he clearly isn't. 

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