Why did Aunt Clara give Lennie a rubber mouse in Of Mice and Men?
In John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men Lennie is portrayed as being mentally challenged. Throughout the course of the novel he's called "nuts," "dumb bastard" and "crazy as a wedge." He is also a very large man who often doesn't know his own strength. In the fight with Curley, it takes several men to pull Lennie away after crushing Curley's hand.
Lennie also has an obsession with "petting" soft things. At the beginning of the novel he is carrying a dead mouse which he strokes with his fingers while he and George are walking. He hopes to one day "tend rabbits" so he will have many animals to pet. He tells Curley's wife in chapter five,
“I like to pet nice things. Once at a fair I seen some of them long-hair rabbits. An’ they was nice, you bet. Sometimes I’ve even pet mice, but not when I couldn’t get nothing better...I like to pet nice things with my fingers, sof’ things.”
Unfortunately, he is deadly toward the animals he comes into contact with, including the puppy Slim gives him. When he was young his Aunt Clara gave him a rubber mouse to pet because he couldn't kill it. But Lennie didn't like the feel of the replacement. He craved something soft. George says in chapter one,
“The hell with the rabbits. An’ you ain’t to be trusted with no live mice. Your Aunt Clara give you a rubber mouse and you wouldn’t have nothing to do with it.”
But Lennie explains, “It wasn’t no good to pet.”