Of Mice and Men: Euthanasia
Death is one of the things humans have to understand in order to be able to live through life. Being born, growing up, learning to survive, and earning a living, these are all the milestones into becoming a statistic. Like dying, mercy is a fortunate circumstance that a person has in any situation towards a variety of offenders. Some say that mercy is a blessing resulting from a divine favor. In the story, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, Lennie was euthanized by George, Lennie’s caretaker/ friend.
I believe that George, as a friend, only killed Lennie in grand admiration of Lennie’s already ill-fated continuance, like Candy’s dog. In the world of “Of Mice and Men”, Candy’s dog represents the fate awaiting anyone who has outlived his or her purpose. Quotes from Carlson, a ranch-hand, reveals this saying, “”Whyn’t you get Candy to shoot his old dog and give him one of the pups to raise up? ”, “I can smell that dog a mile away. ”, “Got no teeth, damn near blind, can’t eat. Candy feeds him milk. He can’t chew nothing else”, and “He’s all stiff with rheumatism.
He ain’t no good to you, Candy. An’ he ain’t no good to himself. ” After this scene, Candy finally lets Carlson euthanize his dog. Both Lennie and Candy’s dog would suffer if they lived. Candy’s dog relates to the reason why Lennie was killed by George. Candy’s dog wasn’t in good health and Lennie killed Curly’s wife and would be in trouble with the law. Although Carlson promises to kill the dog painlessly, his insistence that the old animal must die supports a cruel natural law that the strong will dispose of the weak.
Afterwards, Candy has regrets about the ordeal, and wishes he would have killed the dog himself instead. Like how Candy’s dog was euthanized, Lennie also was. He was killed with far greater compassion though. George loves his friend Lennie, whom he has looked after faithfully, and he doesn’t want Lennie to die horribly. He euthanized him out of love, therefore he is justified. Since Lennie unwittingly killed Curley’s wife, George knows that there is no way to save him now. Even if they do escape, Lennie will never be safe because he doesn’t know how to avoid getting into trouble.
Furthermore, if Curley gets his hands on Lennie, he will make his revenge be slow, terrifying, and painful. Therefore, George knows that the only way to protect Lennie is to shoot him. Lennie’s puppy is one of several symbols that also represent the victory of the strong over the weak. Lennie kills the puppy accidentally, as he has killed many mice before, by virtue of his failure to recognize his own strength. When Curley’s wife screamed, he didn’t know how to make her stop, except by force. Evidence supports that George must save his friend by mercifully killing him.
”Of Mice and Men” reflects upon many situations of mercy in many varieties. In this manner George is a divine favor over Lennie’s life bestowed upon him by Aunt Clara. As Lennie’s blessing, George had the god given right to distribute mercy upon his “other-half” in unfortunate circumstances. For this reason, Carlson and Curley represent the harsh conditions of a distinctly real world, a world in which the weak will always be vanquished by the strong and in which the rare, delicate bond between friends is not appropriately mourned because it is not understood.