Why Does George Lie About The Gun

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Steinbeck's powerful novella, danger looms over George Milton and Lennie Small from the very beginning. Dispossessed and alienated from others, George knows that he must be very wary of associations with others, especially those that involve the childish man with animal strength, to whose aunt he has sworn to protect. As certain foreshadowing of tragedy, in Chapter 1 there is the allusion in George's conversation to the incidents in Weed in which Lennie clutched a pretty girl's skirt too insistently, causing her to scream in fear, an act that resulted in the men's having to flee the area.

In Chapter 5, Lennie sits in the barn. Having petted the puppy too much when it was not yet whelped, the puppy dies. "Why do you got to get killed?" Lennie asks, uncomprehendingly. Lennie covers it with hay and decides to tell George that he has found it dead. With foreboding, Lennie whispers, "Now I won't get to tend the rabbits. Now he won't let me," rocking back and forth in sorrow. But it is not long before Curley's wife enters and wants to talk because, she says, "I get awful lonely." As she talks with him, Curley's wife draws attention to her hair, she tells Lennie he can touch it. "Lennie's big fingers fell to stroking her hair," but she becomes frightened and starts to scream; Lennie tries to quiet her, but she struggles under his strength. Panicking, he tightens his hold upon her, until she collapses from a broken neck.

In Chapter 6, Lennie flees to the area where George has instructed him to go; in the meantime, George discovers what has happened. As he stands in the barn with Candy, George says he must retrieve Lennie who will starve on his own, but Candy suggests that they let him go because Curley will want to get him lynched. "Curley'll get 'im killed. George agrees. Therefore, to keep from being implicated, George returns to the bunk house with the plan for Candy to be the one to have "discovered" Curley's wife's body.

After Candy leads the other men to the barn, Curley vows to kill Lennie with his shotgun, and Carlson says, "I'll get my Luger." George tries to convince the men that they could bring Lennie is because he is "nuts...He never done this to be mean." Slim agrees, but points out that Curley will not be satisfied; he wants to shoot Lennie because he is "still mad about his hand." Soon, Carlson rushes in, accusing Lennie of having stolen his gun. George again pleads with Curley not to shoot Lennie.

"Don't shoot 'im?" Curley cried. "He got Carlson's Luger. 'Course we'll shoot 'im."

George said weakly. "Maybe Carlson lost his gun."

"I seen it this morning," said Carlson. "no, it's been took."

George has lied about the Luger because he has taken it; he does not want to admit this act as the men will believe he is involved in Curley's wife's death and hurt him, too, and he will not be able to accompany the men and intercede for Lennie when they find him, or to take action on his own.

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