Did George Do The Right Thing??? (In of Mice and Men)

Jun 22, 2003

The Bottom Line One of the many GREAT books that should be read to improve one's understanding of both themselves and others around them.

As I said in my first opinion of this novel I am high school student who has read many required books, and “Of Mice and Men” is my favorite. I went on to give a summary on the novel’s plot. However, I ended it with the question on whether George did the right thing by killing Lennie.

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The following is a paper that I wrote years ago as a Freshman in high school. In short, it states that by killing Lennie, George had followed through on the hardest act of friendship, killing someone out of love. In today's ever changing world, one should note that the controversy surrounding this complex novel is no different than those surrounding such topics as euthanasia (physician assisted suicide). The bottom line is that they both deal with making a very difficult choice.

In regards to the paper below, I do not attempt to make my stand on any of the issues mentioned above. I was, and I am still to young to have made any clear opinions. So it is simply just a school paper about facts, not my personal beliefs.

I would also like to note, that due to the fact that this paper is a piece of my written material, any form of copying (cutting and pasting) while saying it is your own, is considered plagiarism and can result in serious consequences.


In John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, an ambiguous question arises on whether George did the right thing by killing Lenny at the end of the story. Some people believe that he did it out of friendship, while at the same time others believe that he did it for his own personal needs. In my personal opinion, I would have to say that he killed Lenny simply out of love for his simple-minded friend. In support of my opinion, I have found many concrete facts throughout the novel that prove it is a legitimate theory. In the following paragraph I further describe my reasoning in depth.

The first reason that I believe George did the right thing was due to the circumstances that arose before Lenny’s death. At that time in the novel Lenny had just killed Curely’s wife accidentally because she had nice soft hair. When everyone found out, they immediately knew that Lenny had done it. So together, with the exception of George who left moments before, they set out in search of “their killer”. There is no question that their only motive was to kill him without a trial. My reason for this came right out of Candy’s conversation with George at the first murder scene. He said that “Curley gon’ta wanta get ‘im lynched. Curley’ll get ‘im killed.” Then George replied that Curley’s statement was right and that the other guys would go along with it.
The second reason for my option is based on the actual sequence of events that occurred at the Salinas Riverbank. When George got there, Lenny was frantically yelling. For he believed that George was “gonna give ‘im hell”. Lenny kept on using the same phrase that he “should go off and live in a cave somewhere”. This is evidently not logical because George knew that Lenny could not have survived on his own, especially when an angry mob was chasing after him. Therefore, instead of yelling at him he actually did the opposite. He tried to make Lenny happy in his last moments of life. George told him to look across the Salinas River and imagine what he was saying. He then started once again to tell the story of there shared dream. The dream of liv’in of the fata of the land. As he did this he then brought up the gun and shot Lenny in the back of the head.
This sounds cruel, but in reality George had an extremely hard time before and after this principal event. Steinbeck wrote that George’s hand shook violently as he pulled the trigger. It only makes sense to me that if George really wanted to kill Lenny for his own needs it would not have been so hard for him to do so. In addition, he would not have given it a second thought, but he did. For right after it happened “he shivered and looked at the gun, and then through it away from him”. Meaning that he wanted nothing with the gun, and that he could not bear to keep it in his possession any longer. Then, even moments later when the mob arrived he was still shaking and looking at that same hand. In my option this only could mean that he was still shell shocked for what he had just done.

Therefore, in conclusion I one again state that George did the right thing by killing Lenny. I hope that I made it clear that George’s act was the only humane thing to do, given the situation. Yes, it would have been nice if he could have hidden Lenny and possibly sent him on his way. As we all now, there was absolute no time for that. For just as George finished his act, the first signs of the angry mob arose. One can only assume with reason that they would have killed Lenny ruthlessly without a second thought. To me it was far better for Lenny to die in peace then by the torture and inhumane means that were sure to come. But then again that is for you yourself to decide.

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