The Great Depression was a difficult time for all Americans. The economy was terrible, no one was making any money, and people were forced to live on the streets or work for food. That is exactly what George and Lennie did in Of Mice and Men. Set in the 1930’s during the Depression, Of Mice and Men deals with many moral themes such as loneliness, violence, racism, and friendship.
In the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck illustrates the possibilities that life has and its effects on Lennie and George. It shows a view of two outsiders struggling to understand their own unique places in the world and to cope with their own blessings and curses. Steinbeck suggests humans have the natural potential to seek happiness although the potential can be fatal or harmful.
This essay is not to just focus on differentiating what are Lennie?s pros and cons, good points and bad ones, blessings or curses, but it is to actually ask ourselves, is Lennie?s greatest pro, his strength, his weakness?
Although Lennie is not potentially smart, Lennie has the potential to be a hard worker; however, Lennie’s strength did not work with him and the result was fatal. Lennie is an extremely large man who had the strength of a bull.
With the use of his strength, he was a great worker but did not understand how strong he was. George explains Lennie’s strength by “that big bastard can put up more grain alone than most pairs can”. Through his size and his enormous amount of strength, Lennie could out work the other men of the ranch by himself. By using Lennie’s strength he became a great worker who knew nothing more than to work. Lennie uses his abilities to work hard, but does not understand how strong he is. Without George, Lennie does not understand what to do. Lennie, who gets frightened and uses his strength to hold on to objects, is just like a child. He will do whatever George tells him to: “Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie’s hand”. George slapped Lennie in the face repeatedly and still Lennie held on. Through Lennie’s actions we can see that Lennie is very similar to a child. Lennie’s first instinct when he is frightened is to hold on. Just as a little kid holds on to its mum or dad when they become frightened, Lennie holds on to objects.
Because of Lennie’s inability to understand his strength, he becomes frightened and tries to silence Curley’s wife, and, as a result, she ends up being killed. Lennie did not understand his strength and became frightened, and
again, just like just like a little child, he held on. But he ended up breaking Curley’s wife neck. As a result of his actions, Lennie ended up dead. Lennie had an extremely great ability to use his strength and become a great worker. However, his inability to understand his strength leads to his death. If you look back into the beginning of the book Lennie has repeatedly got George into trouble, not because of his retardation or innocence but because of his strength. As I mentioned earlier, Lennie has the mentality as a child and normally children are very easy to handle because an individual with more sense can easily overpower him, but if the child is stronger than then that individual, it would be like releasing an innocent 600 pound gorilla into a city. That is why there are mental hospitals, where lunatics and mentally retarded clients like Lennie can live in peace.
Many would argue that Lennie?s strength is probably the only thing everyone respects him of, but that is not the case. If Lennie was small and weak, he would not have provoked Curley, neither would he have enough strength to kill Curley?s wife. I am quite sure no-one would mind if Lennie, although weak followed and did the work which George gave to him
Therefore I feel that Lennie?s strength, although it may seem as a blessing in the beginning, it is actually a curse. It would have been much better for Lennie to be weak as he does not have the mental power to accept such a great responsibility. I feel that no good will ever come out of a skill, no matter how advanced it is, if that person does not understand and can control it.