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George Kills Lennie Essays

Long ago there was a movie whose setting was, like Mice and Men, the Great Depression.  The title of this movie was They Shoot Horses Don't They? and the plot centered around the desperate lives of people duringthe depression of the 1930s.  The central action of this film revolved around the marathon dances held at the time in which people could win money if they were the last couple standing.  Poor people endeavored, therefore, to dance for hours and hours in the hope of attaining money with which they could eat.  However, many of them collapsed and suffered greatly in their efforts.  Their pitiful actions and miserable lives were portrayed in detail; their situations were so painfully tragic that, finally, one dancer, weakened and sick from hours on her feet asked the man who held the money, "They shoot horses, don't they?"  But, people must bear their terrible misery.

Is he morally justified?  Would a man not shoot any other animal that suffers?  It is no coincidence that Steinbeck uses animal terms for Lennie, and that he precedes Lennie's death with the death of Candy's old dog.

George chose to keep Lennie from bearing a terrible misery.  Lennie, who has been described in animal terms, is shot as a horse is shot:  to put him out of his misery.


Of Mice and Men was an awe inspiring book about a couple of men just trying to get by in the Great Depression. George and Lennie had known each other for a very long time and had grown to depend on each other. Throughout the book Lennie asked George to tell him about them, about how they were going to get a place and live together, they never got to do that, as life would have it, reality got in the way. The most controversial topic from this book was why George killed Lennie. It was the right thing to do for multiple reasons, the first being that Lennie was a danger to those around him as well as himself, the second is that Lennie could not survive without George and the last being that if George didn’t, Curly would have.

It’s clear from the beginning that Lennie has caused trouble for George. In the very first chapter George and Lennie had run away from Weed because Lennie had caused trouble for them. He had reached out and grabbed a woman’s dress and she started screaming, as we later found out, and all he had done was hold onto her dress tighter, scaring her so badly that they’d been run out of town by the police. George told Slim later on that he had once told Lennie to jump into a river and he’d nearly drowned. That, and when Curly attacked Lennie and Lennie failed to protect himself proves that he was indeed a danger to himself. He is also proven to be a danger to others when he kills his puppy and snaps Curly’s wife’s neck because he had no understanding of his own strength.

Lennie was also incapable of caring for himself. He counted on George for everything, including when to protect himself. Lennie shows that he is practically incapable of thinking for himself. George has to find them work, food, housing and has to bail Lennie out of trouble. I believe by the end of this book George realized that he just couldn’t take care of Lennie forever but he was going to do his best while he could, which includes choosing to execute him himself.

George knew he had to kill Lennie himself because if he didn’t Lennie would either be locked up, or more likely, Curly would have killed him. Curly clearly states that he was going to shoot Lennie in the gut so that he died slowly and painfully and George knew that Lennie didn’t deserve that. He knew that the best thing he could do for Lennie at that point was to find him first and spare him that miserable fate. By doing that George proved he loved Lennie and that he knew what was right for him. He spared Lennie from dying scared and tortured.

George loved Lennie and killing him was one of the most selfless things he would ever do. In the end George comforted Lennie, told him their story again so the last thoughts Lennie had were happy ones. If George hadn’t killed Lennie he would’ve regretted it the rest of his life and betrayed not only himself but Lennie as well. Georges promise was to protect and care for Lennie, and he did that better than anyone else could have. Killing Lennie was the right thing to do.

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