Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Chapter 5 Analysis (pages 84-89)

Lennie’s killing of the puppy confirms the intimations that his unintended violence towards living things would escalate, while also hinting that he may continue to handle things too aggressively and inadvertently kill something else—which is exactly what occurs with Curley’s wife. Before her death, Curley’s wife reveals her unfulfilled dream to Lennie and describes how it has been stifled by life on the ranch with a domineering husband.

Lennie’s accidental murder of Curley’s wife seems to seal his fate, yet he doesn’t understand the severity of his actions. His limited cognitive abilities would not have been fully understood during the early twentieth century, and Lennie’s punishment would likely be at the hands of the lynch mob. George acts quickly to protect his friend and half-heartedly asks Curley that he not kill Lennie, knowing Curley doesn’t have the capacity for showing compassion to a helpless individual. George decides he will have to deal with Lennie on his own, like Candy wished he had done with his beloved dog.

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