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Mercy Killing – Of Mice And Men Essay, Research Paper

Mercy Killing

In the book Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck, two men travel together to escape their pasts. They arrive at a ranch in the Salinas Valley with hopes to achieve their ultimate dream; to buy a place to call their own. Lennie, who is a simple-minded man, and George, who is just a typical guy are brought together and make a lasting friendship out of the loneliness of each man. While spending time on the farm George and Lennie meet some friendly characters, but because of some accidental deaths their dreams drift away. Foreshadowing may create a literary theme.

Lennie is a massive and powerful man, but is dull-witted, George on the other hand is scrawnier and not as mighty. Both are hearty individuals just trying to survive a tough life. After Lennie s Aunt Clara passed away George took the responsibility of looking after Lennie. Through good and bad times George has learned to love and protect him. Lennie, an animal lover at heart always takes pleasure from petting them. He loves all small, soft, fuzzy things and cannot help himself from petting them. During their journey to the new ranch, Lennie catches a mouse, I could pet it with my thumb while we walked along. (Steinbeck:6). George hates it when Lennie catches animals and plays with them well you ain t petting no mice while you walk with me. (Steinbeck:6) because he knows Lennie could end up killing the tiny animal. Lennie does not know his own strength and handles the mouse too rough you ve broke it pettin it. (Steinbeck:9) After the two men spend the night in the woods, they finish their journey and arrive at the ranch.

Soon after they arrive at the ranch, George and Lennie meet some new and delightful people that they will be living with, until they earn enough money to buy a place of their own. One of the new people that Lennie and George meet was Candy and his old dog. Candy was an old swamper, and was missing one hand, his dog was just like him, very old and in poor shape. The poor old dog was blind, deaf, had no teeth and everyone complained about it smelling horrible, we can t sleep with him stinkin around in here. (Steinbeck:47) All the farm hands believe that killing the dog was in the favor of the dog s own good. Candy didn t want to lose his life long friend I had him since he was a pup, I herded sheep with him. (Steinbeck:44) Finally Candy agreed and Carlson took the dog into the woods and shot him, putting the suffering dog out of his misery. This is the first mercy killing in the story and foreshadows a bigger event later on.

George and Lennie soon become friendly with the farm hands. One of the farm hands even gives Lennie a puppy for him to look after. Lennie falls in love with the puppy and says he will not let anything ever happen to it. Lennie once again not knowing his own strength breaks his puppy s neck, God damn you. He cried. Why do you got to get killed? you ain t so little as mice. (Steinbeck:85) Lennie, scared of getting in trouble from George tries to hide the pup under some hay and thinks of what to tell George, I ll tell George I found it dead. (Steinbeck:85) Before Lennie has a chance to hide the pup Curley s wife comes walking into the stall and starts talking with him.

George told Lennie not to talk to Curley s wife because of the trouble she could cause for them both. She was the wife of the Boss s son and could have Lennie and George fired at any moment, but Lennie disobeyed George and trouble started brewing. She came into the barn when Lennie had killed his pup and started talking to him. She discovered his fondness of soft, fuzzy things and encourages Lennie to pet her hair, Feel right aroun there an see how soft it is. (Steinbeck:90) Lennie reached up and felt Curley s wife s hair and discovered it very soft, Oh! That s nice. (Steinbeck 91) After a while Curley s wife told him to stop, You stop it now, you ll mess it all up, (Steinbeck:91) Lennie panicked and instead of stopping he grabbed hold of her hair. She started screaming and yelling and he then covered her mouth and nose and told her to be quiet. Lennie was panicking and did not know what to do, he was scared of getting in trouble from George, Oh please don t do that. George ll be mad. (Steinbeck:91) He shook her and her body flopped like a fish, (Steinbeck:91) Then all a sudden she was still, he let her go and she fell to the ground not moving, for Lennie had broken her neck. Lennie did not realize what he had done, but he knew it was not good.

After the farm hands and Curley found Curley s wife dead in the barn they all set out in search for Lennie When you see um, don t give im no chance. Shoot for his guts. (Steinbeck:97) Lucky for Lennie, George knew where he would be hiding, back at the bush where George told him to go if he got in trouble. George ran ahead of the group and found Lennie in the bush. Lennie told George what he had done and George tried to tell him that it would be all fine. Lennie gets George to tell him about the future again and then George takes out Carlson s lugar that he had taken and shot Lennie in the back of the head. He believed he was saving him grief and from the punishment he would receive from Curley. George was killing the only friend he had and was someone who he had promised to protect, but he still believed he had to do this. Lennie did not have a chance to stand up for what he had done, society in the 1930 s was different from us today. People did not receive the chance to stand up for what they did and receive the actions of punishment, they would just be shot on the spot or taken and hung. This was the major mercy killing in the book and was foreshadowed by each of the other killings Lennie committed.

Two men brought together through each others loneliness, travel around with hopes to achieve a dream someday, but it begins to go awry when they arrive at the new ranch. Some accidental killings brought George to the stage of having to mercy kill a long time friend to save him the grief of being shot in the gut by Curley. In the 1930 s these people that may have done something wrong by accident did not have a chance to stand up for their actions, but were killed on the spot or taken and hanged. The different killings in the story all foreshadowed the final death of Lennie. This foreshadowing created a literary theme of mercy killing.

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