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Of Mice and Men - Essay 15

Lennie's Guilt

Lennie Small, the strong but dull-witted farm hand, experienced a psychotic break-down near the end of Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. This episode was brought on by a tremendous feeling of guilt. While Lennie's head was full of the thoughts of the death of Curley's wife, his burden upon George, and his mental relationship with his aunt Clara and the giant rabbit, a somewhat confusing portrayal of Lennie's true guilt was shown.

Lennie feels guilty about the death of Curley's wife. He accidentally broke her neck while trying to calm her down. He was scared that George would get mad at him and not let him tend the rabbits. Lennie felt guilty because he knew he had done a "bad thing." Whether or not it was an accident, Lennie had killed Curley's wife. Lennie liked Curley's wife, though he was not permitted to associate with her. When he killed her, it was as if he was losing a companion, leaving Lennie with a sad feeling of loss. Lennie truly does feel guilty about her death, not only because it was a "bad thing," but because he had lost a friend.

A few times throughout the story, especially near the end, Lennie realizes how much of a burden he is on George. George had always taken care of Lennie. Even when times were rough, George always made sure that Lennie was alright. Although most of the bad events the had taken place were Lennie's fault, George protected Lennie from people and things that might have caused him harm. George tells Lennie that he could have a wonderful time without him. Lennie knows that this is true. George could do many activities that he cannot do without having to watch out for Lennie constantly. He could spend his money in cat houses and in pool parlors. Lennie feels guilty because he thinks that he is holding George back from money and women.

Lennie sees his aunt Clara and the giant rabbit during his psychotic episode. His aunt Clara took care of Lennie when he was young. Lennie's brain remembers her as an authority figure. For this reason, Lennie's brain chooses an image of her to place guilt upon him. In their dream, Lennie tended the rabbits. Lennie's interpretation of this great, fuzzy creature is an understandable object in which to relay his unaware guilt. The rabbit, being one of the most important symbols of Lennie's life, is used to show Lennie that his dream will not come true. This thought is a picture of his dream turning on him. The thought of rabbits normally makes Lennie happy, but the guilt he feels conquers him. The images of his aunt Clara and the rabbit are his way of coming to an understanding of the guilt in which he is not consciously aware.

Lennie's mental break-down was brought on by a heavy feeling of guilt lingering in his simple mind. His brain's simple thought process showed Lennie what he was thinking in the unconscious part of his mind, mainly guilt. This dream was triggered by the death of Curley's wife, along with the under-lying thought of George's life, Lennie's aunt Clara, and tending rabbits




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

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