What are three reasons George was right to kill Lennie in Of Mice and Men?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, he flees to the riverbed, where George meets up with him. As Curley's lynch mob is approaching, George holds a gun to Lennie's head as he retells their dream scenario one last time before killing Lennie.

1: George's decision to shoot Lennie in the back of the head is justified by the fact that Lennie would suffer more if Curley's lynch mob were to capture him. Curley even mentions that he wants to shoot Lennie in the gut, which indicates that Lennie would endure an extremely painful death. Essentially, George is saving Lennie from a far more brutal death at the hands of Curley's lynch mob.

2: George's decision to kill Lennie is potentially better for society as a whole. Given the fact that Lennie has already assaulted a woman in Weed and accidentally murdered Curley's wife, there is no telling if Lennie would accidentally harm another person if George did not shoot him.

3: Another reason George could be considered right for killing Lennie is out of his personal self-interest. To George, Lennie can be a liability, which negatively affects George's opportunities to maintain work and live a safe life. George has already been forced to flee the authorities once after Lennie's incident in Weed. Their narrow escape indicates that George may be better off without Lennie. 

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many different justifications one could come up with regarding George killing Lennie at the end of Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men.

1. George knows that if Curley and the other men find Lennie that they will kill him. George also knows that Curley is still angry with Lennie for breaking his hand and that Curley will not be killing Lennie as a "sympathy" killing. Instead, Curley will, instead, kill Lennie as an act of revenge.

2. George knows that it would only be right for him to be the one to take Lennie's life. One could justify that George has been taking care of Lennie for a very long time and he wishes to be the one who took care of him up until the end.

3. One last reason why George could be considered "right" in killing Lennie is that George has finally come to his wit's end with caring for Lennie. Knowing that Lennie will surely mess up again, George is worried about having to get Lennie out of trouble for the rest of their lives. George is simply tired of taking care of him.

ncch | Student

A reason can include the fact that if Geroge didnt killl elnnie then Lennie could have been treated very bad if his matter was to go infornt of the law just because in that time period people with mental illnesses were not treated as people but rather as monsters so Geroge was just trying to help a 'friend' that had done alot for him and he just never wanted to see him suffer more.