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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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Of Mice and Men

-John Steinbeck-

Justice is crucial to a well-governed society. It protects the innocent and the criminals are held accountable. In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck the actions of George are proven righteous. The novella takes place in the 1930’s during the great depression. George travels with his best friend, Lennie, a mentally challenged giant. They find jobs at a farm and dream of tending their own one day. Lennie, however, murders Curley’s wife and is hunted down. George finds Lennie and shoots him instead of saving him. Lennie’s reckless nature confirms he is at fault for his actions. On numerous occasions he is unable to control his harmful behaviors. This includes the deaths of several animals, a rape, and a murder. Love and mercy also influence George’s motives. This paper argues that George is justified in killing Lennie.

George keeps Lennie from experiencing the consequences of his actions. Lennie will be beaten and killed by the other men. If they escaped, it would be a matter of time before another "accident". George says, “An’ you ain’t gonna do no bad things like you did in Weed neither” (Steinbeck 7). George knows he is unable to protect Lennie from society. Therefore, he is unable to protect society from Lennie. From George's perspective, killing him is the only kind thing to do. He uses his better judgement and morality in favour of Lennie’s victims. One one side, killing is never acceptable. However, sometimes justice requires a sacrifice that will benefit everyone.

When Carlson shoots the old dog, the incident serves as a foreshadow. It is old, blind, disabled, and stinky and thought to be of no use. Similarly, Lennie is unintelligent and problematic because of his strength. He is no use to George and only kept company because of their friendship. George explains that “When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while"(40). He is harmful, however, placing himself and others in dangerous situations. George and Lennie were run out of Weed because Lennie touches a girl's dress and she claims that she was raped. Then Lennie destroys Curley's hand on the command of George. Finally, Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife. If George let Lennie escape, Curley and the others would have shot him unmercifully.

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