Of Mice and Men Essay
Explore the ways Lennie is presented and developed in Of Mice and Men Although Lennie is among the main characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’, he is perhaps the least self-motivated. He experiences no significant changes, development, or growth throughout the novel and remains exactly as the reader encounters him in the opening pages. Throughout this essay I will be explaining the different aspects of his character. Although Steinbeck’s insistent foreshadowing of these characteristics makes Lennie a rather simple character, Lennie’s simplicity is essential to Steinbeck’s idea of the novel.
Since the tragedy depends upon the outcome seeming to be expected, we as the reader must know from the start that Lennie is doomed, and must be sympathetic to him. Steinbeck achieves these two feats by creating a character who earns the reader’s sympathy because of his utter helplessness in the face of the events that unfold. Lennie is totally defenceless, he cannot avoid the dangers presented by Curley, Curley’s wife, or the world at large, ‘Curley’s fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. Representing his tragic flaw this extract clearly shows that Lennie has no control over his strength which is making the ending more foreseeable. But he is a character whom Steinbeck sets up for disaster, a character whose innocence only seems to ensure his inevitable destruction. Steinbeck also portrays Lennie as a violent man throughout the novel by making the character of Lennie unable to control his violence. Compared to the other characters, Lennie reveals an unintentional violence. He does not even think to fight back when Curley attacks him, but when he does; it is with immense and uncontrollable force.
He has so little control over his own strength that he accidentally kills his puppy, and then minutes later kills Curley’s wife. His actions on these occasions are compared to those of an animal, powerful but thoughtless, ‘…a little dead puppy that lay in front of him…his huge hand stroked it, stroked it clear from one end to the other.. ”Why do you got to get killed?… I didn’t bounce you hard. ” ‘. This extract clearly shows that he is unaware of strength and that he is confused to as why the puppy has been killed.
Ironically, Curley’s wife is attracted to him because of the violence he had shown in crushing her husband’s hand. It is the threat of violence to be used against Lennie that causes George to take the final step of killing his friend. We can also see Lennie as a victim; this is perhaps the most interesting trait of his personality for lots of different reasons. Interestingly, the words used to describe Curley’s fighting and struggle seem to be more violent than Lennie’s aggression, making Lennie seem the victim.
The onomatopoeia usage of words such as “slashed” and “crashed” create the idea that Lennie is the one being hurt in this situation. Cross sectioning, the same description technique is used when Lennie is suffocating Curley’s wife. Words such as “battered” and “writhed” are used to initiate that even though Lennie is the one hurting, he is the victim none the less. Furthermore, Steinbeck writes that “Lennie watched in terror” as Curley’s hand crushed under his own, showing that even though he is doing it, he can’t control himself and does not want to be hurting him.
Instantly, because of the description of the way he is acting, we feel sympathy for Lennie, and not the person he has hurt. Finally, we also can believe that Lennie is only ever violent through being invited or tricked into it. Firstly, with the mouse he kills he says himself “pretty soon they bite my fingers”, showing that he would only ever pet harder if they did so. Secondly, he only breaks Curley’s hand because Curley punches him and George tells him to do so, and finally, Curley’s wife takes his hand and makes him touch her hair, not knowing that he will not let go.