In John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men,” one of the overarching questions is “who dies in Of Mice and Men?” The answer to this question is significant to the story’s themes and character development.
Throughout the novel, the characters face a multitude of challenges, and the death of a character or characters affects them greatly. By exploring who dies in Of Mice and Men, readers gain a better understanding of Steinbeck’s portrayal of human nature and the devastating impact of loneliness, isolation, and mental disability.
The Characters of Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men depicts the lives of two close friends, Lennie Small and George Milton. Lennie is a large and strong worker, but he has a mental disability which makes him dependent on George, his best friend and caretaker.
In contrast, George is a quick-witted man and serves as Lennie’s protector.
Their friendship serves as the backbone of the novella, as Lennie and George’s shared dream of owning a farm one day gives them a sense of hope and purpose, despite the difficulties they face as migrant workers during the Great Depression.
Describing Lennie and George’s Friendship
The bond between Lennie and George is portrayed as a strong and enduring friendship throughout the novella. They share a deep love and affection for each other, with George often referred to as Lennie’s “guardian” or “big brother”.
Despite the challenges they face, George remains a steadfast protector of Lennie, seeing him as a source of companionship and comfort in a difficult world.
However, throughout the story, George also grapples with the responsibility of caring for Lennie. He becomes increasingly conflicted about the practicality of their shared dream, given Lennie’s mental limitations and his tendency to unknowingly cause harm to others.
Explaining the Role of Other Characters
Other characters in the novella play key roles in shaping the story and highlighting the harsh realities of the time period. One of these characters is Curley, the aggressive and domineering son of the boss.
Curley serves as a foil to Lennie, highlighting the dangers of physical strength and power when not tempered by compassion and care.
Another important character is Candy, an older worker with a disability who becomes invested in Lennie and George’s dream of owning a farm. Candy’s presence in the story underscores the theme of marginalization and the hardships faced by older workers during the time period.
Which character meets their demise in Of Mice and Men?
At the end of the novella, George spares Lennie from a violent confrontation with Curley by shooting Lennie in the back of the head. This decision is a difficult one for George, who is torn between his love for Lennie and his concern for their safety.
By choosing to end Lennie’s life himself, George spares his friend a more painful and prolonged death at the hands of others.
The Death of Lennie
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men culminates in the death of Lennie Small, one of the main characters. Lennie is accidentally responsible for the death of Curley’s wife, and George, his guardian and best friend, decides to protect him from Curley’s wrath by killing him instead.
Providing Context to Lennie’s Death
Lennie’s death is preceded by a series of events that led to his tragic end. He is a mentally challenged but physically strong man who struggles to comprehend his strength and often becomes violent, causing harm to those around him unintentionally.
Throughout the novella, Lennie is shown to have a fascination with petting animals, leading to a series of misfortunes, ultimately culminating in the death of Curley’s wife.
Describing George’s Decision to Kill Lennie
After Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife, George realizes that Lennie is in danger of being lynched by Curley and the other workers. George’s decision to kill Lennie is a difficult one, but he comes to the conclusion that it is the only way he can protect Lennie from the wrath of the men on the farm.
He tells Lennie to look across the river and imagine their dream farm, before shooting him in the back of the head.
Analyzing the Significance of Lennie’s Death
Lennie’s death has a profound impact on the novella’s themes of loneliness, the American Dream, and the nature of friendship. For George, Lennie was a source of companionship and support amidst the difficulties of their lives.
Without Lennie, George is left alone, unable to fulfill their shared dream of owning a farm. Lennie’s tragic end also highlights the brutal nature of the society portrayed in the novella, where individuals with mental illness are marginalized and excluded from society.
Who Dies in Of Mice and Men?
In John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, there are several characters who die throughout the story.
List of Characters who Died in the Story
- Curley’s Wife – she dies as a result of Lennie accidentally breaking her neck.
- Candy’s old dog – Carlson shoots it in the back of the head.
- Lennie Small – George shoots him in the back of the head to save him from a painful death at the hands of Curley.
Describing the Circumstances of their Deaths
Curley’s Wife’s death was accidental, as Lennie didn’t understand his own strength and curiosity led him to grab her hair too tightly, breaking her neck. Candy’s old dog was shot because it was old, sick, and smelled badly, while Lennie’s death was a mercy killing done by George to spare him from being tortured and killed by Curley.
Explaining the Impact of Each Death on the Story
Curley’s Wife’s death had a profound impact on all the characters as it led to the tragic ending of the story. Her death also exposed the sexism and unfairness of society towards women.
The death of Candy’s dog highlighted the harsh reality of life during the Great Depression era, and the importance of being practical and realistic. Lennie’s death was the climax of the story, and it revealed the tragic nature of the American Dream and the impossibility of achieving it.
Themes and Motifs in Of Mice and Men
“Who dies in Of Mice and Men?” is a question that haunts every reader who has ever read this novella. The story of two friends, George and Lennie, ends with Lennie’s death.
Lennie, who is mentally challenged and has a habit of getting into trouble, accidentally kills Curley’s wife, and George is left with a difficult decision. In the end, George chooses to spare Lennie from a painful death and shoots him in the back of the head after reciting their shared dream.
Identifying the Various Themes in the Story
The themes in Of Mice and Men revolve around friendship, dreams, loneliness, and the harsh reality of life during the Great Depression. Steinbeck portrays the friendship between George and Lennie as the only thing that keeps them both going.
Their dream of owning a farm is a symbol of hope for a better future, but it also represents the harsh reality that the American Dream is unattainable for most people.
Explaining the Significance of Each Theme
The theme of friendship is significant as it highlights the importance of having someone to rely on during tough times. George and Lennie need each other to survive, and their friendship helps them to keep going.
The theme of dreams is significant as it shows that even in the darkest of times, people need something to believe in. The dream of owning a farm is a symbol of hope for George and Lennie, but it is also a reminder of their dire financial situation.
The theme of loneliness is significant as it shows the harsh reality of life during the Great Depression. Many people were forced to live alone and had to rely on themselves to survive.
Describing the Motifs in the Story
The motifs in Of Mice and Men include loneliness, the dream ranch, the river setting, and animal imagery. The motif of loneliness highlights the difficult choice George must make.
He knows that if he doesn’t shoot Lennie, then he will be handed over to Curley and will suffer a painful death. The motif of the dream ranch highlights the theme that even the best-laid plans can sometimes go wrong.
George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm is shattered when Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife. The motif of the river setting symbolizes the idea of change and the passage of time.
The motif of animal imagery is significant as it shows the harsh reality of life during the Great Depression. Animals are often killed for food, and in a way, George is forced to kill Lennie to spare him from an even more painful death.
George shoots Lennie in the back of the head at the end of Of Mice and Men to spare him from Curley’s wrath and to prevent him from suffering a worse fate. This act is controversial, with some people believing that George did the right thing, while others think that he was being selfish.
The novella portrays the difficult lives of two friends, Lennie and George, as they struggle to achieve their dream of owning a farm in the midst of the Great Depression. Loneliness, the dream ranch, the river setting, and animal imagery are important motifs that highlight the themes of the novella.
- Of Mice and Men – Wikipedia
- Of Mice and Men: Plot Overview – SparkNotes
- Of Mice and Men: Book Summary – CliffsNotes