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A Dog Named Lennie

Essay by   •  August 23, 2016  •  Creative Writing  •  1,311 Words (6 Pages)  •  961 Views

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The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck takes place during the Great Depression, and begins besides the Salinas River near Soledad, California. Here, Steinbeck introduces the reader to the main characters, George Milton and Lennie Small, migrant workers in search of jobs. George is portrayed as the leader of the two, while Lennie is the follower. Steinbeck states that George and Lennie are opposites. George is described as a small man with sharp features, which explains Lennie’s comparison to both a dog and a bear when it comes to his appearance. Many of George’s actions are mimicked shortly after by Lennie, showing that he is extremely dependent on George in his day to day life. The men make their way to a ranch. The reader is introduced to a few more pivotal characters: a man named Carlson who works on the ranch and owns his very own luger, a simple old man, missing his right hand by the name of Candy who also works on the ranch, and his dog, who has no name at all. About halfway through the novel, the three characters that were just mentioned find themselves in a situation. Carlson wants Candy’s dog to be put down, but Candy is hesitant to part with his old companion. The situation culminates with Carlson shooting Candy’s dog. Continuing from this point, the story as a whole concludes with George’s decision to shoot Lennie. Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men metaphorically compares Lennie and Candy’s dog by making them both dependent on someone, continuously referring to Lennie as an animal but a good worker, and ultimately, making both of their deaths almost identical.

Both Lennie and the dog depend solely on their caregivers to survive, and although they are not independent, they are both incredibly good workers. Lennie and the dog are both companions to their “owners.” Lennie and George work and travel together, and Lennie always does his job better than most men. Candy’s dog has been a great sheepherder, best herding dog Candy’s every had. While the dog relies on Candy for food, water, and shelter, Lennie relies on George for support and permission. In chapter three, Lennie gets involved in a physical quarrel, however, he does not fight back. He looked to George for support, and George gave him direct orders to defend himself, much the same way a master would issue commands to a dog. Although it is not directly stated in the text, the reader can easily assume the same goes for Candy and his dog. Dogs are obedient animals, Candy’s most likely obeyed his commands immediately as well. Lennie and Candy’s dog are also both emotionally attached to their owners. “‘I'm so used to him,’ he said softly. ‘I had him from a pup’” (45). This quote shows how the dog is Candy’s only companion, and that they have been together for an extended amount of time.

Moreover, Lennie is referred to as all sorts of animals in the novel, a dog being the point of focus at this moment. “Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his fingers…” (3). Steinbeck’s use of figurative language shows the reader the similarities between Lennie and Candy’s dog. Metaphorically comparing Lennie to animals shows how the characters in the novel respond to him, as well as how accountable they hold Lennie for his actions. The punishment for most of Lennie’s actions parallel the measures one might take to discipline a pet. When Lennie hides the mouse from George, another dog comparison is made. Steinbeck refers to Lennie as “a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to it’s master” (9) Although Lennie is stubborn, he knows he must do as George says because if he does not, George will punish him.

Furthermore, Lennie’s death and the dog’s death mirror each other perfectly except for a small handful of details. Saying goodbye to a friend or a companion is never an easy task to come to terms with. George and Candy both suffered from the loss of their partners. “I oughta of shot that dog myself, George, I shouldn't oughtta of let no stranger shoot my dog” (61). Candy is clearly in pain at the loss of his good friend. This quote played an important part in George’s decision making when it came to Lennie being “put down.” George knew Lennie would suffer in prison. Lennie is intellectually challenged, and in many places, including prison, any sort of disability that is not visible to the human eye

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