Homework: Follow-up (Of Mice and Men)
A character sketch of Lennie
John Steinbeck gives us a physical description of Lennie at the beginning of the first chapter:
Behind him (George) walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders, and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely.
Lennie is half-witted, but also, as Slim and Curley's wife say, a 'nice fella'. He is in fact a child's mind in a strong man's body. His problem is that he never learnt how to control his body. He is amazed and upset when his mice and his puppy die, unable to believe that they are so fragile and unable to realise that it is not their fragility but his strength that kills the animals. So he isn't smart at all, but he can take orders and work very hard.
Another important feature of Lennie is his innocence. That innocence is so obvious and transparant that we sympathise with him. Maybe we feel the same for Lennie as George does.
Lennie does not know what racism is. The prove of this is when, on a Saturday night, most of the man including George went to town, he enters the room of the only Negro who lives lonely on the range. No-one talks to him and is allowed to enter the Negro's room in the stables.
Lennie is just like a tame dog who follows his master: He had been instructed by George to let George do all the talking when they reached the farm and he kept his promises, even when the boss violently said that he had to speak! Another example is when he had troubles on the farm, George had said that he had to go to a particularly place in the wood and at the end of the story Lennie did.
Lennie is not always a 'nice fella': He plays with George's feelings of guilt (see chapter 1). Lennie knows that George will feel guilty about his loss of temper and about taking away Lennie's mouse. He gets the sympathy he wants from George by saying things like (see chapter 1): 'lf you don't want me, you only jus' got to say so, and I'll go off in those hills right there-right up in those hills and live by myself. An' t won't get no mice stole from me.'
Lennie knew from the beginning that the range was a bad place for him. He said (cried): 'I don't like this place, George. This ain't no good place. I wanna get outa here.' What he tought came true: Curley and Lennie had a fight with each other.
Something special about Lennie is that he holds on when he is frightened. The holding on appears three times in the book: with the woman in Weed, with Curley's hand and with Curley's wife. It is strange for a simpleminded person like Lennie to do this. Normally simpleminded persons run away when they get frightened.
At the end of the book, when Lennie runs to the wood, he gets visions: There was a little fat old woman (his Aunt Clara) who stood in front of him. She spoke with Lennie's voice.
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