The Dust Bowl Era was a problematic time in American History. It was almost insurmountable to find a job or even be able to keep the job. Considering financial difficulties, no friends traveled together, since it was every man for himself. An exception during that time, George and Lennie, two friends with an unbreakable relationship always traveled together. They were complete opposites however they remained loyal to each other despite the difference. They had a dream of someday buying a ranch, and their relationship provided a hope for them to actually being able to attain that. A man with a mental illness, Lennie unintentionally created problems at the Ranch. He killed mice, then rabbits, then puppies then a full grown women. George finally comes to a decision of executing Lennie himself. In the tragic setting in the 1930s, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, George was right to execute Lennie considering history, probability, morality and justice.

Lennie accidentally kills the boss’s daughter in law, otherwise known as Curley’s wife. It creates problems for Lennie, and George comes to a resolution of killing Lennie himself so Lennie could die the most pleasant way possible. George has love and compassion for Lennie and knew that Lennie would not understand the depth of what he has done. George made Lennie carefree before his death letting him know that he forgave Lennie of everything also he lets Lennie imagine their future ranch right before his last breath. “‘ Can’ you get to tend the rabbits.’ Lennie giggled with happiness.(195)” Although other opinions state that George was selfish considering that he could have ran away with Lennie, he was altruistic because he shot his own dreams when he killed Lennie. He knew that without Lennie he would become like the “others” since he himself would not have a friend to share his desires with anymore. He also knew that Curley would have killed Lennie in a torturous way to give him a bitter death. George ended Lennie’s life himself so that he would not have to suffer in the hands of Curley. If George had not killed Lennie, Lennie’s alternatives are much worse, impersonation or incarceration in a mental hospital. George did what was right for Lennie even if it meant that he will end up like “one of them”, lonely, and depleting his money on prostitutes and alcohol. 

Throughout the book, Lennie seems to be unaware of what is wrong and what is right, and this is a continual burden to George. George knows that he could easily get rid of Lennie and live his own life, but he always forgives Lennie at the end selflessly. Steinbeck uses a lot of foreshadowing to predict the pitiful death of Lennie. He refers to Lennie as an animal, “Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water…” indicating that someday, Lennie will get slaughtered by George like he kills all the animals every weekend, “Ever’ Sunday we’d kill a chicken or rabbit. Maybe we’d have a cow or goat.” When George and Lennie are walking towards the ranch George tells him “If you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an’ hide in the brush.” At the end of the book Lennie goes back to the bush and George kills him there. This piece of foreshadowing is vital because it almost definitely tells us that Lennie is going to get in trouble. Another example is Candy’s dog. Candy ends up having to give up his dog and he tells George that he should have killed the dog himself. “He won’t even feel it.’ Candy did not move nor answer him(48).” George learns from Candy that he should kill Lennie himself. At the end, George knows that even though he will regret his decision for the rest of his life, he has to execute Lennie anyways for Lennie’s benefit. 

Lennie’s is very powerful, yet he is unable to control his strength. Lennie’s inadvertent “habit” of killing things escalated and it was wrong to let Lennie run away after he killed Curley’s wife. It was not just a sudden burst that Lennie had that compelled him to kill Curley’s wife. Lennie kept doing the “accidental killing” it over and over again. If George ran away with Lennie, Lennie would have been unable to control his own strength and killed other things. Since Lennie does not do this intentionally, it is estimated that Lennie has a mental illness. It would also be impossible for Lennie to afford health care: “Considering the way we finance healthcare in the United States, it would be hard to make a case…(Merrill Matthews)” In the 1930s, the Government did not have a death penalty for executing people with mental disabilities meaning it would have been lawfully correct even if it was taken to court. Although sometimes George treats Lennie in a cruel and merciless way, he was always Lennie’s caretaker, and protected him when Lennie created trouble. George has come far enough for Lennie to realize that he cannot take responsibility of Lennie and his struggles forever. 

Of Mice and Men is an awe inspiring book for many people. The most controversial topic of the book is Did George do the right thing by killing Lennie. The ending of this book may seem grim and morbid, but George made the right decision to shoot Lennie himself. Life was hard enough for George and the Dust Bowl Era was not the moment to care about keeping friends.