Of Mice and Men Lennie Small
by John Steinbeck

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Lennie Small

Extended Character Analysis

Lennie Small, George’s companion and fellow migrant laborer, is not “small” at all. Lennie’s ironic last name highlights how the two main protagonists, Lennie and George, represent a study in contrasts. While George is small and shrewd, Lennie is a “huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders.” He resembles a “bear” who “drags his paws” and “his feet a little.” George and the other laborers frequently remark on Lennie’s formidable strength. Many compare him to a bull, and Slim states that he has “never seen such a worker… such a strong guy.” He remarks, “ain’t nobody can keep up with him.” 

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Although Lennie may be the strongest man on the farm, he “ain’t no fighter,” as George states. Lennie is stronger and more powerful than even he realizes, and he often accidentally kills the rabbits and mice whose soft fur he likes to pet. Although never explicitly mentioned, readers may infer that Lennie has an intellectual handicap. He is often described as childlike, and he requires George’s assistance to obtain jobs. Lennie also values George’s companionship because George shares his dream of living “on the fatta the lan’” with his beloved rabbits. 

Lennie gets into trouble when others perceive his huge stature as menacing. Lennie may be large and physically intimidating, but he is kind and innocent by nature. He never means to hurt animals or anyone, but his incredible strength and mental limitations often unintentionally result in violence. At George and Lennie’s previous job in Weed, which they had to flee from, Lennie was accused of raping a woman after he forcibly rubbed her dress. At their current job in the Salinas Valley, Lennie’s innocent actions result in violence and death. When Curley instigates a fight, Lennie refrains from fighting back until George orders him to retaliate; when Lennie becomes enamored with Curley’s wife’s soft hair, he loses control of his faculties and accidentally kills her. 

(The entire section is 515 words.)