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The novel Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, is about two ranch hands, George and Lennie. George is a small, smart-witted man, while Lennie is a large, mentally- handicapped man. They are trying to raise enough money to buy their own ranch, by working as ranch hands. During the setting of the story, they are at a ranch whose owner’s name is Curley. It is in this setting that the novel reveals that the main theme is death and loss.
Lennie accidentally killing all of his pets establishes that the theme of this novel is death and loss. These pets consist of mice, dogs, kittens, etc. Lennie loves to feel and pet animals, but he does not know his own strength. He kills them without really noticing what he has done, until George tells him that he did something wrong. After being scolded, Lennie is very remorseful about what he did. Once, after being yelled at Lennie says, “I pinched their heads a little and then they was dead- because they were so little (13).” Lennie’s remorse is probably more for upsetting George than it is for actually killing the animal.
Another way that death and loss is evidenced by this novel is when Lennie killed Curley’s wife. When Lennie is in the barn (after killing his new puppy) Curley’s wife came into the barn and came on to Lennie. Lennie not knowing what was happening let her lull him into touching her hair. To Lennie it was like petting any other animal. Curley’s wife became flustered when Lennie became scared and would not let go of her hair. She started to scream and Lennie tried to cup her mouth, which concluded in him killing her. Lennie was truly remorseful after this action. Soon after killing her Lennie can be heard saying to himself, “I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing (121).”
The final confirmation of the death and loss theme occurred to George, not Lennie. After going to the place where George had told him to go if anything went wrong, Lennie lays and waits in the brush for George to come get him. What Lennie wasn’t expecting was George to come with a posse of ranch hands with him.
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