Steinbeck’s final moments of his short novel, Of Mice and Men are both tragic and yet hopeful. The reader recognises that Steinbeck is offering a glimpse of an equal, potential friendship between the two most respected characters in the novel, George and Slim. This glimpse of hope prevents the close of the novel being utterly bleak and even despairing.
For the tragedy of the text emanates from George’s ironically ‘kind’ execution of his best friend Lenny who is being relentlessly pursued for the his ignorant killing of Curley’s wife. George has to shoot Lenny before the posse led by Curley, reaches Lenny and inflicts a bloody form of ‘justice’ upon him. George chooses to stand by his promise to take of care of his friend, even though this promise has inflicted a terrible responsibility for Lenny’s welfare upon him. This responsibility culminates in this act of compassionate murder that will haunt George no doubt, for the remainder of his life.
In this short essay, I will examine the ways in which Steinbeck suggests that George may still have something to live for at the close of Of Mice and Men, even though the context in which he has to live on without his friend Lenny, seems peopled by insensitive human beings only interested in their own selfish, immediate concerns.
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