Lennie Small-An introduction
- Lennie is one of the main characters.
- He evidently has a learning difficulty of some kind, leading to his apparent younger mental age and lack of awareness of the world around him.
- He has a love of feeling soft materials, such as the dress of the girl back in Weed, mice, puppies, Curley's wife's hair and of course, rabbits.
- His american dream is basically to 'tend the rabbits'.
- He is, however, extremely physically strong, and is not aware of it, which is why he accidentally kills mice while stroking them, accidentallly kills the puppy and then Curley's wife.
- When he is unsure of what to do and he knows he may be in trouble, he just freezes. For example, in the accident in Weed, he holds on to the girl's dress, unsure of what to do, until George comes and stops him. Following George's instructions, he defends himself from Curley and in doing so, crushes Curley's hand and then just holds on as he is panicking and is unsure of whether to let go or not. In the final accident, with Curley's wife, he realises that his has disobeyed George's instruction of staying away from her and when she screams, he panics and in an attempt to silence her, he breaks her neck.
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Key Quote 1
- Being introduced:
- "Behind (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.”
- 'large, pale eyes’. Large eyes can be associated with innocence and naivety, which reflects Lennie’s character-due to his learning difficulty, he is mentally vulnerable and gullible, as shown later when Crooks makes him believe that George is not going to return to him. It also reflects how childlike he is-he seems to have a mental age of a child.
- 'dragging his feet a little’ childlike image, as well as his arms that ‘hung loosely’-this gives the image of a frustrated, tired child.
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Key Quote 2
- Animal imagery: “the way a bear drags his paws”; “snorting…like a horse”; “dabbled his big paw”; “strong as a bull ".
- This could mean that Lennie is sometimes closer to an animal in character; he immediately starts drinking water from the pool, ignoring the fact that it ‘looks kinda scummy’, showing that he is following basic instincts similar to that of an animal.
- It could also suggest that his actions may be a little unpredictable, due to being compared to a bear or a bull, although these comparisons are most likely used just to emphasise his physical characteristics.
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Key Quote 3
- "I can still tend the rabbits, George?” (after fight with Curley).
- This demonstrates how Lennie judges his actions by how likely he will be allowed to ‘tend the rabbits’ when he and George finally achieve their dream-he has no sense of right and wrong.
- This relates to Lennie’s love of feeling and stroking soft surfaces. However, these are the reason for the dark events in the novel. For example, in the incident back in Weed, where he was feeling a girl’s dress, and when he accidentally kills a pup that Slim gave him. These events darkly mirror the event which leads to Lennie’s death-again, Lennie wants to feel a soft material-this time it is Curley’s wife’s hair-and this time George is not there to stop him, and so Lennie panics and accidentally kills Curley’s wife.
- He doesn’t really understand the consequences of his actions.
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Key Quote 4
- "Lennie…imitated George exactly”.
- He looks up to George, the way a child looks up to their father. Like a child trying to impress their father, Lennie also does this by remembering an instruction George gave him; “I ain’t gonna say a word.”
- George is his role model and Lennie would do anything to please him. He is also rather protective over George as well; when Crooks tries to convince him that he has lost George he begins to threaten whoever would hurt George; “Suddenly Lennie’s eyes centred and grew quiet and mad. He stood up and walked dangerously towards Crooks. ‘Who hurt George?’ he demanded.”
- This is a little surprising to the reader as this is the first time Lennie is seen angry and away from his own world for once.
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