What is Steinbeck trying to convey in the novella Of Mice and Men when he compares Lennie to various animals? 

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the novella, Steinbeck compares Lennie to various animals. Lennie is compared to a bear dragging its paws, a horse drinking water, a disobedient terrier, a terrified sheep, and a dog seeking comfort. Lennie's mental and physical character traits are illuminated by Steinbeck's comparisons. Mentally, Lennie is depicted as subhuman and unintelligent like animals. Similar to animals, Lennie acts on his instincts and does not process situations or thoughts the same way a normal person would. Lennie follows and listens to George like a dog. George even tells Slim that Lennie would jump into a river if he were told to. Lennie's dog-like personality also demonstrates his loyalty to George.

Similar to an animal, Lennie is also physically imposing and hard to control. His animal-like strength, tireless work ethic, and massive physique provide the reader with a visual reference point. Also, Lennie's animal-like personality portrays his innocence, and the reader does not hold him accountable for his actions. Steinbeck's references essentially convey to the reader that Lennie is both mentally and physically comparable to an animal.

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Of Mice and Men

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