What is the meaning of George killing Lennie at the end of the novel "Of Mice and Men"?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The final scene between George and Lennie is suffused with sadness, even though Lennie retains his blissful ignorance until the end. To reassure Lennie, George forces himself through their habitual interaction one last time. He claims that he is angry, then assures him that all is forgiven and recites the story of their farm. For George, this final description of life with Lennie, of the farm and the changes it would have brought about, is a surrender of his dreams. The vision of the farm recedes, and George realizes that all of his talk and plans have amounted to nothing. Without Lennie, George relinquishes his hope for a different life. Lennie was the only thing that distinguished his life from the lives of other men and gave him a special sense of purpose. With Lennie gone, these hopes cannot be sustained. The grim note on which the novel closes suggests that dreams have no place in a world filled with such injustice and adversity.The other men who come on the scene see only the body of a half-wit who killed a woman and deserved to die. Only Slim, the wisest and most content man on the ranch, understands George’s profound loss and knows that George needs to be consoled.