Lennie Small - “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

A Comprehensive Analysis of Literary Protagonists - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Lennie Small - “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

A Full Character Analysis of Lennie Small in John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"

"Of Mice and Men," a novella by John Steinbeck, is a moving examination of the American Dream in the midst of the Great Depression. The story follows two nomadic workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, as they make their way through a world of social injustice and economic suffering against the backdrop of a harsh and brutal landscape. The story's actions and themes are significantly shaped by Lennie Small, an imposing yet mentally handicapped man on the outside. Lennie's history, character qualities, motivations, conflicts, relationships, and general relevance within the novella's framework will all be covered in this in-depth character analysis.

Character Type: Lennie Small's Static and Dynamic Aspects

Lennie Small is a distinct personality possessing both dynamic and static attributes. On the one hand, his mental illness prevents him from developing intellectually or emotionally. Lennie is naive throughout the narrative, relying on his friend George for direction and defense. Lennie, on the other hand, has abrupt shifts in his emotional state and perception. There are periods of great emotional anguish and development as a result of his relationships with other characters and the difficulties he encounters, which push him to face the harsh realities of the world around him.

The Gentle Giant's role as a catalyst for tragedy in the story

Lennie Small is the driving force for the terrible incidents in "Of Mice and Men." Lennie is George's co-protagonist in the novella, and his presence influences the story and motivates its main ideas. The American Dream is symbolized by his dream of owning a plot of land with George, where they can live freely and take care of rabbits. But Lennie's incapacity to regulate his enormous physical power and comprehend social cues sets off a chain of events that culminate in a devastating ending.

History and Upbringing: The Influence on Lennie's Personality

Lennie's early life and family are not well-documented, and his history is mysterious. It is evident that he has known George for a considerable amount of time, and their relationship goes beyond that of colleagues. Lennie's continuous innocence and infantile personality can be attributed to his dependence on George and lack of familial ties. His upbringing—or lack thereof—sets the stage for his mental constraints and highlights the fragility that characterizes him.

Characteristics of the Person: The Contradiction of Power and Defense

Lennie Small's remarkable physical power stands in sharp contrast to his restricted mental ability. Because of this dichotomy, a multifaceted character is created, one whose actions have the potential to be both amazing and terrible. Lennie's interest with soft creatures, like mice and rabbits, which he accidentally hurts because he doesn't realize his own strength, demonstrates his innocence. Readers find him charming because of his innocent curiosity and simplicity, but they also highlight how tragic it is for him to live in a society that frequently takes advantage of weak people.

Lennie's commitment, dependability, and unfailing faith in George's advice are positive attributes. Lennie is committed to their common goal in spite of the difficulties they encounter, offering a glimmer of optimism and companionship in an otherwise depressing world.

Lennie's inability to understand social cues and consequences is the main cause of his negative qualities. His inadvertent acts of violence, like the unexpected killing of Curley's wife, underscore the devastating potential of his strength and give his persona a tragic undertone.

Inspirations and Objectives: Chasing the American Dream

Lennie's main driving force is his desire to realize his and George's joint goal of becoming landowners—the American Dream. This dream is a symbol of security, self-reliance, and a haven from the outside world. Lennie's basic aspirations, like taking care of rabbits and living off the land, demonstrate his desire for a life devoid of the complications of society. His dedication to this goal turns into a motivating factor that directs his behavior and gives him a sense of direction among the hardships of their nomadic lifestyle.

Dispute and Difficulties: Lennie's Battle with the Environment

Conflicts both internal and external to Lennie arise throughout the story. He struggles inside with his inadequate comprehension of social dynamics and the fallout from his actions. He faces difficulties from the outside, such prejudice, exploitation, and the hard reality of living in a culture that shows little tolerance for people with mental illnesses. The sad event involving Curley's wife serves as an example of the external problems that Lennie faces because of his incapacity to handle social cues, which leads to unexpected consequences.

Connections: The Threads That Shape Lennie's Persona

Lennie's relationships are crucial to the story and help to shape who he is as a person. The main theme of the narrative is his relationship with George, which stands for camaraderie, friendship, and shared aspirations. George takes on a fatherly position, offering safety and guidance to Lennie, and Lennie's devotion to and faith in George emphasize how strong their bond is.

Lennie's tenderness and purity come across in his relationships with other individuals. His infatuation with plush objects, such as apparel and animals, suggests a need for coziness and compassion. The difficult interaction Lennie has with the boss's aggressive son Curley serves as a stark reminder of the social obstacles Lennie's mental illness presents.

Archetypes and Symbolism: Lennie as the Tragic Figure

Lennie Small is the epitome of the tragic figure—a person whose innate shortcomings and unavoidable circumstances result in anguish. Lennie's physical strength has symbolic meaning that embodies both his unrealized potential and the catastrophic outcomes of that power. The land in Lennie's dream, with its soft objects and rabbits, represents the purity and simplicity that he longs for but finds difficult to uphold in a cruel and merciless world.

Character Arc: Lennie's Journey: Tragedy and Growth

Stunted growth and sorrow characterize Lennie's journey. His emotional journey is turbulent, but his cerebral development remains stagnant. The story's turning point, which determines Lennie's fate, is the unintentional death of Curley's wife. Lennie is forced to face the harsh reality of a world that does not comprehend or accept his weaknesses as a result of the events leading up to this point.

Speech and Language: Lennie's Uncomplicated Elegance

Lennie's vocabulary and speech patterns reveal his mental immaturity and innocent demeanor. He doesn't always use sophisticated language like other characters do; his are frequently succinct and direct. But even in his simplicity, he manages to express deep feelings and ambitions in a straightforward way that readers can relate to. Phrases like "I like to pet nice things" are repeated, which highlights his simple yet genuine desires.

Historical and Cultural Background: Disability and Discrimination in America During the Depression

It's important to take into account the novella's cultural and historical background in order to completely comprehend Lennie's character. The Great Depression, with its social injustices and financial hardships, serves as Lennie's background. Lennie's story gains complexity from the lack of awareness and support for those with mental illnesses in this era, which highlights the difficulties he experiences in addition to his own limitations.

A Critical Look: Lennie Small Seen Through Various Lenses

Lennie Small has been analyzed from a variety of angles by academics and literary critics, which has improved our comprehension of his persona. Lennie's significance as a figure of innocence and vulnerability in a harsh world is explored by some, while others focus on the social commentary on handicap and discrimination in Depression-era America. The reader will be better able to appreciate Lennie's character depth and the layers of significance woven throughout the story by looking at various crucial points of view.

Assessments of Lennie Small's Importance

Finally, it should be noted that Lennie Small is a very important character in "Of Mice and Men." His complicated demeanor, created by an enigmatic history, is what sets off the tragic events of the novella. It is a combination of his dynamic and static qualities. Lennie's love of soft things and pursuit of the American Dream represent his innocence in contrast to a cruel society that is unable to accept or comprehend him when he is vulnerable. His interactions with George in especially bring friendship, loyalty, and the quest for a better life to light.

The tragic and delayed evolution of Lennie's character arc highlights the difficulties that people with mental disorders faced in America during the Great Depression. His straightforward yet elegant writing highlights the compassion that resides within him in spite of society misconceptions, giving the story a tragic depth. Steinbeck's dramatic novella is enhanced by the inclusion of Lennie Small, a symbol of innocence and fragility, in its investigation of societal inequalities and the elusive character of the American Dream.

By examining Lennie Small's character, readers not only obtain a better knowledge of the person but also a prism through which to consider more general topics of discrimination, compassion, and pursuing aspirations in the face of adversity.