“To save a man's life against his will is the same as killing him” (Horrace, n.d). Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, tells the story of a man, Lennie, who is very dependent on his friend George, which is essential in order for Lennie to behave well because of his mental disability. Even though Lennie's mental disability causes everyone at the ranch to be against him and to possibly give him a worse punishment than George. Steinbeck characterize Lennie a danger in society by foreshadowing the death of Curley's wife through his comparison to animals, lack of independence and his inability to control communicating George did the right thing shooting Lennie ensuring happiness and peace to his death rather than the unknown.
Steinbeck uses imagery to compare Lennie with big and dangerous animals to communicate his true capability. In the first chapter, as Lennie and George walk through the woods, Lennie walked “heavily, dragging his feet” and was compared to how a “bear drags his paws” (Steinbeck 2). Right away, by comparing Lennie to a bear, we can visually describe Lennie to be big and strong. A bear can seem to be innocent but is truly capable of being dangerous and hurting someone, foreshadowing that even if Lennie seems to be sweet or not at all a danger, he is more than capable of using his own strength to hurt someone even if it’s intentionally. Steinbeck also describes Lennie's hands as a “big paw” when Lennie runs his hands through the water when him and George are on their way to the ranch (Steinbeck 63). This is another example of Steinbeck using imagery to describe how big and strong Lennie is portrayed. Comparing Lennie's hands to paws foreshadows that Lennie will act like an animal later in the book. Behaving like an animal usually indicates being disrespectful, and seeing unusual and concerning behaviour from a human. An animal is more than capable of killing someone with their paws, foreshadowing that Lennie uses only his own bare hands and strength to strangle Curley's wife. In conclusion, Steinbeck compares Lennie figure and strength foreshadowing the death of Curley's wife through the use of imagery.
Lennie's lack of independence causes him to behave in a concercing way putting his surroundings in danger. Without George guiding Lennis every step of the way, Lennie starts hallucinating about Aunt Clara, who has been dead for awhile. After Lennie kills Curley's wife, he runs away into the brush to wait for George, he starts telling Aunt Clara that he “tried” and “tried” and “tried” to be good for George (Steinbeck 101). As Lennie is alone and has felt that he had disappointed George, he starts to hallucinate. By hallucinating he is not aware or paying attention to his surroundings or what is happening in real life, which can result in hurting someone around you or even yourself. By repeating that he “tried” and “tried” to do good for George indicates that he is clearly upset, and in a very fragile state. When in a fragile state, you are too weak to control your behavior, and might do something you regret. In conclusion, George assures that Lennie is safe and in control by watching out for him and without George, Lennie's concerning behaviour can put his surroundings in danger.
Steinbeck characterizes Lennie's inability to control to be inappropriate towards women and was foreshadowed by the death of his dog that he is a danger to society. While in Weed, Lennie saw a girl in a red dress and automatically wants to touch it, the woman starts to “squawk” and “squawk” when he doesn’t let go causing him to get scared that “all he can think to do is jus’ hold”, resulting the women to feel like she was “raped” (Steinbeck 41). When Lennie hears the women “squawk” and “squawk” rather than understanding that she is clearly uncomfortable, afraid and wishes for him to get off, Lennie decides to not let go. Since Lennie's first instinct when getting “scared” is to hold on, indicates that it is only a coping mechanism for Lennie and it is uncontrollable, and that it is related with his mental disability. Although by deciding to not let go, tells us he does not respect women and their wishes to feel comfortable or safe. Yet because his mental disability causes it to be uncontrollable only communicates he is a danger to women in society. Furthermore, the death of Lennie's dog foreshadows that his inability to control has only gotten worse when he accidentally kills Curley’s wife. Lennie accidentally kills his dog after being so rough with it, comparing that it isn’t “so little as mice” (Steinbeck 85). By comparing a dog to mice indicates that Lennie doesn’t understand how strong he truly is, causing the dog to die after being so rough with him, communicates he is a danger to animals. The death of his own dog informs that Lennie is fully capable of killing something or someone, which foreshadows the death of Curley's wife. When Lennie strokes Curley's wife's hair a little too rough, she asks for him to “let go” yet he decides to cover her mouth and nose and she struggles “violently”. (Steinbeck 91). Related to what happened with the dog, Lennis has no control over his strength and what he is truly capable of, and it showed how capable he is of truly hurting someone when he kills Curley's wife. In conclusion, unfortunately, Lennie is not capable of understanding his own strength, resulting many uncontrollable tragedies and a danger in society.
In conclusion, by Lennies concerning behaviour, being compared to animals and having no control over his own strength foreshadows his true capability of being able to kill someone. Steinbeck characterizes Lennie to be a danger and would have only gotten worse for Lennie if George did not kill him. It is clear that Lennie was so dependent on George since they were best friends, therefore George knew what was best for Lennie. Lennie's mental disability causes him to hallucinate and to not be aware of reality, not allowing Lennie to understand what he did. George knew that if he did not kill Lennie himself, the rest of the men would have torturtered or punished him far worse, knowing how hatred Lennie was by the other men. Lennie's disability would not only cause Lennie to not understand but without George it would make him behave more anxiously, and overall would have had the worst time. The only way of saving Lennie from being punished worse, held against his will, was to kill him.By killing Lennie not only assured happiness to his death but George understood it was the only way to protect his best friend.