Of Mice and Men
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When visiting in a nursing home, one may begin to feel depressed. The residents are carrying on in a childlike demeanor and not fully understanding where they are and what they are doing. The people that enter this facility including the employees excuse the residents actions knowing that these helpless people have no idea of how they are behaving a lot of the time. In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, there is a character by the name of Lennie Milton. Lennie’s mental handicap prevents him from understanding things like his strength and his handicap causes him to act in a childlike manner and as a result of this, the novel has many occurrences of death or near-death experiences.
Because of his mental handicap, Lennie has a tendency to do irrational things without understanding the effect of his actions. Lennie heavily depends on his friend George because his mental capacity is like that of a child. Lennie is often described in terms of animals (pg 2). Lennie is devoted to George like a dog is devoted to his master. Not really understanding the result of his actions, Lennie does things that are not normal. The only thing that Lennie knows is that George is going to get him if he does the wrong thing. Lennie often forgets the things that he is not supposed to say and needs George to keep him out of trouble. The theme of friendship is present throughout the novel as George is a great friend to Lennie. Lennie makes George feel special because George sees Lennie as a friend. With Lennie, George has a strong sense of responsibility. Lennie’s irrational behavior includes a trip to a pool of water. A childlike wonders is seen when he slurps down the huge gulp of water like a horse. (Pg. 3). Often times, Lennie’s actions are reminiscent of an animal and George gets frustrated and angry with Lennie because of his animal like behavior. George repeatedly gets angry that Lennie knows what it means when George “gives him hell” (pg. 91)
Lennie does not know his physical strength and because he does not know hisstrength he unintentionally ends the life of innocent things. Lennie’s greatest feeling of security comes from petting soft, “furry” things like rabbits (Pg 16.) The recurring motif of death in the novel often involves Lennie. Because of his disability, Lennie does not have the capability to understand such an abstract concept like death. For example, Lennie carries