What trouble did George and Lennie have in Weed in Of Mice and Men?

The trouble that George and Lennie had in Weed in Of Mice and Men was an incident between Lennie and a girl in a red dress. Lennie had startled the girl by touching her dress, and Lennie reacted to her fear by becoming afraid and not letting the dress go. The girl later falsely accused Lennie of raping her, leading to George and Lennie having to flee for their lives.

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Before arriving at the ranch in Soledad, George and Lennie were chased out of Weed and managed to evade a lynch mob by hiding in an irrigation ditch after Lennie scared a young woman wearing a red dress.

In the opening chapter, George mentions the trouble Lennie caused them in Weed, but he does not provide further details until later in the story. In chapter 3, George elaborates on the situation in Weed during a conversation with Slim. George tells Slim that Lennie saw a young woman wearing a red dress and wanted to touch the material of her dress. The reader recognizes that this is typical behavior for Lennie, who has an affinity for tactile stimulation and enjoys touching soft things.

Unfortunately, Lennie startled the girl, who began screaming. Instead of letting go, Lennie panicked and held on tighter, which only made the situation worse. When George arrived on the scene, he had to hit Lennie over the head with a fence picket to make him let go.

The girl claimed that Lennie raped her, and George and Lennie were forced to hide in an irrigation ditch for the remainder of the day to avoid a lynch mob. Fortunately, George and Lennie were able to escape and traveled to Soledad to work on the ranch. Tragically, Lennie repeats the mistake he made in Weed but ends up accidentally killing Curley's wife.

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The first thing we learn about Weed is that Lennie and George used to work on a ranch there, similar to the ranch the duo is on their way to as Of Mice and Men opens. In the conversation that follows between George and Lennie, we learn that Lennie had done some “bad things” in Weed, and that the pair had needed to leave in a hurry to evade capture. Despite the serious nature of what happened, Lennie’s memory has to be jogged for him to remember it.

It is later in the story, when the two are settling down at the ranch and George is having a conversation with Slim, that we learn the details of the trouble in Weed and what it had been about. George tells Slim that the problem had involved a “girl in a red dress.” While Lennie never harmed the girl, her red dress had caught his attention. Being an extremely tactile person, Lennie had reached out to touch the dress. In response, the girl had cried out, which in turn had scared Lennie.

Now in a flustered state, Lennie had kept holding onto the girl’s dress, and while he did nothing to hurt her, the girl told local authorities that Lennie had raped her. As a result of the accusation of rape, men from Weed set out to lynch Lennie. George and Lennie had spent the day in hiding and fled from Weed that same night.

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It should be noted that George never really saw what happened between Lennie and the girl in Weed, just as he never really saw what happened between Lennie and Curley's wife in the barn. When George is telling Slim about the incident in Weed he says:

"I was jus' a little bit off, and I heard all the yellin', so I comes running, an' by that time Lennie's so scared all he can think to do is jus' hold on."

After that they are both on the run, so George has no occasion to get any account of the incident other than Lennie's. When they finally had a chance to stop running and talk about what happened, Lennie must have told George that he only wanted to feel the fabric of a pretty dress. This is bad enough in itself. A strange man can't just go up and start handling a girll's dress, but Lennie is naive and doesn't grasp this fact, or the implications of committing such an act. It is hard to imagine exactly how Lennie might have done it. Would he try rubbing the fabric or gripping some of it between his fingers? The plain fact--as George realizes only too late--is that Lennie was more attracted to the girl than to her dress. When George is looking down at Curley's wife's dead body in the barn, he says:

"I should of knew. . . . I guess maybe way back in my head I did."

What he should have known was that Lennie must have actually gone up and grabbed the girl. It was a sexual assault--although Lennie may not have realized exactly what he was doing, because he did not understand his own feelings. That would explain why this girl reported that a strange man had tried to rape her and also explain why

"The guys in Weed start a party out to lynch Lennie."

Weed is a small town in the far northwest corner of California. It is several hundred miles north of San Francisco, which is at least a hundred miles north of Salinas. So the fact that George and Lennie have traveled such a long distance before looking for work suggests that the incident in Weed was extremely serious. They could have both been killed by the lynch mob or alternatively thrown in jail for assault or attempted rape.

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While they were working in Weed, Lennie saw a girl wearing a pretty red dress.  Focused on the dress's beauty, he reached out to touch it, and the girl screamed.  Lennie panicked, and holding on even tighter, would not let go.  George had to "(sock) him over the head with a fence picket to make him let go" before he would release the dress.  The girls eventually reported the incident as an attempted rape, and "the guys in Weed start(ed) a party out to lynch Lennie".  George took Lennie to hide in an irrigation ditch, and when darkness fell, they fled the vicinity.

Lennie did not actually hurt the girl, but, being big and strong, he scared her badly. As Slim observed, "(Lennie) ain't mean", and George agreed, explaining, "(Lennie) jus' wanted to touch that red dress like he wants to pet them pups all the time".

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They were run out of town. Lennie likes to touch soft things; he likes the way they feel in his hand. That's why he is constantly stroking rabbits and mice. His dream is to one day look after the rabbits on a ranch he's going to buy with George. Unfortunately, Lennie's penchant for stroking soft objects often gets him into trouble. It certainly does near the end of the story in relation to Curley's wife. And back in Weed it was a similar story, though without the tragic consequences. Lennie touched a girl's dress. His motives were completely innocent, but the girl and the townsfolk inevitably got the wrong idea. Not surprisingly, Lennie is perceived as a threat, so he and George have to escape Weed as soon as they can in order to avoid a possible lynching.

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