Why does Lennie have a dead mouse in his pocket in the first chapter of "Of Mice and Men"?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the opening scene of the novella, George yells at Lennie for carrying a dead mouse in his pocket. Lennie insists that the mouse was dead when he found it and tells George that he was simply petting it because it felt good. After George asks Lennie to hand over the mouse, Lennie complies and gives the dead mouse to George, who throws it into the brush on the other side of the pool. Later on, Lennie retrieves the dead mouse from the brush while he is collecting sticks for their campfire. 

The reason Lennie is obsessed with the dead mouse and carries it in his pocket is because he enjoys petting soft things. Lennie is mentally challenged and cannot control his desire to continually stroke anything that is soft. Later on in the novella, Curley's wife allows Lennie to feel her hair, and he ends up roughly grabbing it. Unfortunately, Lennie tugs at Curly's wife's hair when she begins to panic, and he accidentally kills her.

Rebecca Owens eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lennie is carrying the dead mouse because he likes to touch soft things. He loves soft, furry animals and dreams one day of living in his own farmhouse with George and raising rabbits. 

Unfortunately, he is mentally challenged, and sometimes doesn't realize his own strength. Often, when he is petting small animals, he is too rough. He accidentally killed the mouse by squeezing it too hard. Now he is afraid to tell George because he is afraid he will be angry and not let him help with the rabbits someday. He is still keeping the mouse, though, because it is soft, and he likes to feel it in his hands.

The mouse is also symbolic. Enotes analysis page states that the crushed mouse is a foreshasowing of the frailty of the men's dreams and the inevitable way they, too, will be crushed.

nisarg | Student

Lennie carries the dead mouse because he likes to touch soft things and he knows George will take it away from him if he sees it.

jassyhut6 | Student

it was aforeshadow....later lenny kills curleys wife becuase her hair was soft and the rat's hair was soft

meseret | Student

lennie could pet it with his thumb while they walked along

xhanamurr | Student

he likes to touch soft things

like later in the book with the girl in the red silky dress in weed, he touches it and she accuses him of rape

and after that when he gets his puppy he pets it to hard and breaks his neck

and in the end when he touches curly's wifes soft curly hair and kills her

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Of Mice and Men

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