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Of Mice and Men: Character Analysis of Lennie Smalls



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    Lennie Smalls is a barley bucker. Hidden behind his enormous size, he is very innocent. He doesn’t understand how things work. He has a very pure mind and hasn’t adopted any evils of the world. For example, in the book, Lennie finds himself in Crooks’ room, which few people have ever been in,primarily because he is black. Crooks reluctantly lets Lennie into his room and tells him to set down. They get into conversation and find themselves talking about how Crooks is not allowed in the bunkhouse. Lennie says, “Why ain’t you wanted? The reason behind this, in everyone else’s mind, is quite obvious. However, Lennie is so innocent he doesn’t understand that being black means Crooks must be separated from the white people of the ranch. Lennie shares this virtue with young children, and like young children, he is very childish. Perhaps the best of example of Lennie’s juvenile behavior comes in the beginning of the book when George explodes on Lennie after he says he likes his beans with ketchup. George goes on about how better off he’d be alone, not having to take care Lennie.

    Lennie’s response to this is “If you don’t want me, you only just gotta say so, and I’ll go off in those hills and live by myself. And I won’t get no more mice stole from me. ” Like any child, if you tell them they’re not wanted somewhere or you get them upset, they will try to make you feel guilty and threaten to leave. Lennie’s babyish behavior extends farther than this. As a result of his child-state-of-mind, Lennie is also very touchy. He likes to feel and touch everything that interests him.

    For instance, towards the beginning of the story, Lennie and George are arguing over Lennie’s habbit of holding mice and petting them. George brings up the rubber mouse that Lennie’s Aunt Clara gave him. Lennie refused to keep it because “It was no good to pet. ” Lennie likes touching anything soft or interesting, much like children in grocery stores. Even though their parents repeatedly tell them to not touch anything, they’re fascination gets the better of them, much like how George discourages Lennie from keeping these mice.

    George isn’t doing it to be mean, he’s just looking out for Lennie. And this protection is mutual between them, as Lennie is very protective of George as well. An example of Lennie being protective would be the part of the book where Slim, Curley, and George are all in town and Lennie is in Crooks’ room. Crooks starts messing with Lennie, telling him that something will happen to George and he won’t come back. Lennie responds to this by standing up in front of Crooks and saying ,”Ain’t nobody gonna talk no hurt on George. George is the only person Lennie has in his life. He is completely dependent on him and knows how much George does for him, so he is very protective of him. If I had to describe Lennie’s personality in four words, it would innocent, childish, touchy, and protective. Throughout the book, Lennie does not interact much with the other people living on the ranch. Mainly because he is dumb. His mind isn’t capable of processing a conversation, so he just tends to talk about whatever is on his mind, even if it is completely irrelevant to the conversation.

    For example, when Lennie is in Crooks’ room, Crooks is telling Lennie about his childhood in full depth and reminiscing on his days as a kid on his father’s chicken ranch. After he Is done talking, Lennie’s response is “How long you think it’ll be before them pups will be old enough to pet? ” This shows how short Lennie’s attention span is. Although Lennie is dumb, he is very nice. This is significant because his size contradicts his personality. He never has a problem with anyone on the ranch. Even when someone is being confrontational, he doesn’t use his enormous strength and size to put them down.

    For instance, when Curley starts attacking Lennie, he does nothing in his defense. Whether he knows it or not Lennie could easily over power Curley. However, Lennie covers up his face and yells to George for help. He is desperately trying to avoid the confrontation and doesn’t know what to do. George finally tells him to fight back and Lennie grips up Curley by his hand and crushes it to the point where it is broken. This proves how strong Lennie is, and incidents like these are reoccurring throughout the novel. This is because it’s his unnatural strength that leads to his demise.

    Before his unfortunate death, Lennie Smalls had a desire to tend rabbits. Lennie repeatedly mentions rabbits through story. It is the only thing he ever thinks about, regardless of the topic of conversation. His dream to tend rabbits is a product of his small, childish mind. Also, it reflects on his self image. His biggest desire in the world isn’t to be rich or own his own land, it’s to tend rabbits for the sake of being able to pet them and take care of them. Like his dream, Lennie is very childish. But as of right now, Lennie is not taking care of any rabbits.

    He is on the ranch bucking barley with George for a $50 dollar per month salary. George is able to look forward to the money; however, Lennie could care less about the money. It means nothing to him. He doesn’t like where he is either. He thinks the place is “mean”, and the hard work he performs everyday isn’t making him any happier. Lennie is unhappy and will not be happy until he is on a farm tending rabbits. Readers of Of Mice and Men are able to figure out Lennie Smalls very easily and early, but from the perspective of the residents of the ranch, he is not so easy to understand.

    Lennie does not talk much. It is difficult for the people around him to see that he is mentally slow because of this. Talking is the only medium for Lennie’s mental handicap to travel through. You cannot tell this by looking at him. So by Lennie being quiet throughout the story, people are only able to see this trait unless they’ve had a personal conversation with him. So i think it is Lennie’s mental slowness that goes the most unrecognized out of all of his personality traits.

    Of Mice and Men: Character Analysis of Lennie Smalls. (2016, Nov 10). Retrieved from

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