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How does Steinbeck portray the character of Lennie in 'Of Mice and Men'

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How does Steinbeck portray the character of Lennie? Steinbeck shows the character of Lennie to be a complex one with several facets to his personality. Lennie is illustrated as having the mentality of a child whilst still being hard working. One of the several literal devices which Steinbeck implements to portray Lennie?s character is the comparison of him to animals. Lennie is demonstrated as being a pivotal character of the novel. The combination of personality traits Steinbeck shows him to have are used to create a contrast between Lennie and the depressive culture around him. In the beginning of the novel Steinbeck describes Lennie as ?a huge man, shapeless of face... and he walked... the way a bear drags his paws. His arms... hung loosely.? This suggests Lennie?s size and strength, but also that he is simple and animal like. Steinbeck?s descriptions of Lennie also lead us to believe that Lennie has the mind of a child. This became clear from the start when Lennie ?wiggled his fingers so the water arose in little splashes? and he ?watched them go?. ...read more.


Steinbeck compares Lennie to a bear, a potentially dangerous animal. Lennie drags his feet ?the way a bear drag?s his paws?. The only way he can cope is to be like a tame dog, tethered always to his master George and never let out of his master?s sight. Yet Lennie can also be like a wild dog, needing to ?put down? by his owner. Lennie is ignorant of his own strength. Lennie found a mouse and then ?broke it pettin it?. This tells us that he often misjudges situations as he doesn?t realise that he is doing anything wrong. Another example of where he misjudges the situation is in Weed. He doesn?t realise that he should not have felt the girl?s dress, and when she jerked away, ?He was so scairt he couldn?t let go of that dress?. Lennie panicked and unintentionally hung on and used his strength to frighten the girl, even though he was frightened himself. However, Lennie?s immense strength could be seen as an asset when it came to work, as he could ?put up more grain alone than most pair of hands? could. ...read more.


It is this characteristic of Lennie?s that crooks and Curley?s wife see when they decide to confide in him. However, Lennie?s response to Curley?s wife death portrays him as selfish and cold-hearted. He knows that he has ?done a real bad thing? yet all he is worried about is George not letting him ?tend no rabbits?. He even grows angry and blames Curley?s wife by saying, ?you gonna get me in trouble just like George says you will.? This sort of aggressive behaviour, though unexpected from this ?innocent? and ?child-like? character, shows us a more negative and possibly evil side of Lennie, and also the extent to which he can go in order to avoid trouble. In conclusion, Steinbeck has created a character with a personality which could be interpreted in different ways depending on the reader. Lennie is portrayed as a lovable, dependent child in the midst of the cruel 1930s environment. However his response, to the death of Curley?s wife shows a different side to his personality. The ultimate death of Lennie?s character is intelligently used to question the real existence of the American Dream. ...read more.

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