John Steinbeck's timeless novel, Of Mice and Men, is a piece of literature that many teens encounter in high school. It explores the story of two migrant workers during the Great Depression. What are the central themes of the novel?
Of Mice and Men is about the loss of innocenceShow moreShow less
One of the protagonists of the story, Lennie, views the world in a childlike way, due to a mental disability. His inability to understand his strength often leads to him accidentally hurting others.
Lennie interacts with women similarly to how he interacts with animals. He is unable to understand social cues, which leads to the first incident with a woman. This situation occurs before the reader is introduced to George and Lennie.
Lennie touches a woman's dress so that he can feel the texture of it, but the woman misunderstands and interprets his action as an attempted sexual assault. Lennie is unable to understand why she became so upset. This accusation drives George and Lennie out of town, which leads them to the ranch owned by Curley's father.
The only other example of Lennie's behavior with women is seen when he encounters Curley's wife while trying to bury the puppy he killed. During this encounter, he begins petting her hair after she says that it's okay to do. Lennie then starts petting her hair too aggressively, which causes her to scream out. He panics, trying to silence her screams, and accidentally kills her.
Lennie's intentions with both of these women, when compared to the end result of these encounters, exemplifies the loss of innocence that Lennie experiences.
[P1] Lennie is unable to understand social cues, especially with women.
[P2] Lennie's inability to understand social cues leads him to encounter situations in which his intentions are misunderstood.
[P3] Lennie's inability to understand how to properly speak and interact with a woman leads to him accidentally killing Curley's wife.