What are the man vs. self conflicts that happen in Of Mice and Men? Identify four characters who have this kind of conflict.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A character vs. self or man vs. self conflict is when a person is conflicted about a decision that he has to make or is worried or scared. 

An example of an internal conflict is George’s decision to let Lennie attack Curley.  He did not have much time to think about this when it actually happened.  He knew that Curley was trouble, and had told Lennie to stay away from him. Curley was a little man who thought himself tough, and as the boss’s son, he had power.  However, when Curley picked a fight with Lennie, George let Lennie fight.

George was on his feet yelling, "Get him, Lennie. Don't let him do it."

Lennie covered his face with his huge paws and bleated with terror. He cried, "Make 'um stop, George." Then Curley attacked his stomach and cut off his wind. (Ch. 3) 

George might have regretted the amount of damage Lennie did to Curely’s hand, and the fact that Lennie was so frightened during the fight.  Lennie was big, and did not know his own strength. They covered up the fight by saying Curley got his hand hurt by a machine.

Curley was embarrassed to admit that it was Lennie.  His internal conflict was that if he told on Lennie, Lennie and George would have been fired, but everyone would know what happened and he would be a laughing-stock.  His pride would not allow that.

A third internal conflict is Crooks’s decision to let Lennie and Candy into his room and into his life.  Crooks is used to isolation, and at first he wants nothing to do with either of them.  He thinks that no good can come of it, and their dream of owning land is pointless.  He is disarmed by Lennie’s childlike nature and encouraged by Candy’s admission that he already has some money, and against his better judgement he lets them stay and allows himself to dream.  The arrival of Curley’s wife quashes his dreams when she reminds him of his lowly status. 

A final example of the man vs. self conflict is George’s decision at the end of the book to kill Lennie.  It is not something George would have wanted to do, but he decided he had to do it to protect the world from Lennie and to protect Lennie from the world.  Lennie’s mental impairments had gotten him into trouble before but they had caused him to kill a person this time, Curley’s wife, and he just did not understand what he had done.  Given time, Lennie would have killed again.

Slim came directly to George and sat down beside him, sat very close to him. "Never you mind," said Slim. "A guy got to sometimes."

But Carlson was standing over George. "How'd you do it?" he asked.

"I just done it," George said tiredly. (Ch. 6)

 Slim understood.  He was the one person that would (and George knew that he would, which is why he told him).  That’s why Slim offered him a drink.