How does the Biblical relationship between Cain and Abel parallel the relationship between George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

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The Biblical story of Cain and Abel and the description of their relationship does not particularly parallel George and Lennie's relationship in Steinbeck's classic novellaOf Mice and Men . Unlike Cain and Abel, George and Lennie are not brothers and do not have stable lives. George and Lennie...

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The Biblical story of Cain and Abel and the description of their relationship does not particularly parallel George and Lennie's relationship in Steinbeck's classic novella Of Mice and Men. Unlike Cain and Abel, George and Lennie are not brothers and do not have stable lives. George and Lennie are close friends, who travel together throughout the western United States looking for work. In the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, the siblings are rivals and Cain resents his brother after God favors his sacrifice more. Cain becomes upset at Abel and ends up murdering him out of vengeance. Similarly, George ends up murdering Lennie in the novella but does so for entirely different reasons. Unlike Cain and Abel, George does not view Lennie as his rival and is depicted as his loving protector. After George discovers that Lennie accidentally killed Curley's wife, he meets his friend at their hiding spot by the Salinas River and kills him out of mercy before Curley's crew can torture him. Overall, George and Lennie's relationship does not particularly parallel the Biblical relationship between Cain and Abel.

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In Steinbeck's work, George and Lennie are not brothers, but they live as brothers. George tells Lennie they are lucky to have each other. "We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us." George protects the mentally impaired Lennie much as a big brother would look after a defenseless younger brother. There is one basic parallel in George's relationship with Lennie and Cain's relationship with Abel. George murders Lennie; Cain murders Abel.

Beyond that, these relationships are more strongly characterized by their differences. Cain slays Abel out of hatred, pride, and jealousy. George kills Lennie out of love, to spare him a horribly painful death at Curly's hands. When confronted by God, Cain does not take responsibility for his actions. When Slim finds George at the river, George does take responsibility. Slim knows what George has done and understands why. He comforts George.

In reference to Abel, Cain asks, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Clearly, he was not. In Of Mice and Men, George is his brother's keeper, until the very end of Lennie's tragic life.

 

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