Mercy In John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men

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“...George raised the gun and steadied it...the hand shook violently...but his face set andhis hand steadied. He pulled the trigger” (Steinbeck, 106). The book Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck is full of symbolism, motifs, and themes. One of the prevalent themes in thisnovel is the theme of mercy. The book revolves around the idea of killing, but not by the normalincentives of rage, anger, and hate but out of mercy. The theme of mercy is portrayed by Candy,Candy’s dog, and Lennie.The theme of mercy is represented by the old man Candy. In the novel Candy is “[an]old...” and crippled swamper (Steinbeck, 24). Because Candy lost his right hand and also be-cause he is old, he is not much use at the ranch. The boss lets him continue to …show more content…
Candy’s dog is veryold and sick in it’s old age, much like Candy himself. The ‘ “...dog...is so God damn old he can’thardly walk. Stinks like hell, too’ ” (Steinbeck, 36). The author reveals that the dog is probablyin pain and is an unpleasant animal to have around the other workers. Although Candy has “‘...been around him so much that [he] never notice[s] how he stinks...’ ”, the other ranch hands,especially Carlson, despise having the dog around (Steinbeck, 44). During one part of the novelCarlson asks, “‘Why’n’t you shoot him, Candy?” (Steinbeck, 44). Even though it would be mer-ciful to the dog Candy argues that he “ ‘...[was the] best damn sheep dog [he] ever seen’ ” andthat he ‘“...had ‘im ever since he was a pup”’ (Steinbeck 24, 44). Candy has “ ‘...had ‘im tolong...’ ” and says “ ‘...[he] couldn’ do that’ ” (Steinbeck, 45). He has a hard time letting go of the dog even though it is probably the most merciful thing to do for it. Carlson insists that the “‘...ol’ dog jus’ suffers hisself all the time...’ ” and offers to “ ‘...shoot him for [Candy]’ ” (Stein- beck, 45). Getting desperate, Candy turns to Slim, who agrees that “ ‘...[the] dog ain’t no goodto himself..’ ” Candy final gives in and allows Carlson to take his dog away and kill him.Candy’s dog is killed out of mercy and also because it has outlived …show more content…
At that point George real-ized that he should be merciful to Lennie because of his mental disability. Later on in the novelthere is a scene where George is angry at Lennie for ‘ “...keep[in] [him] shovin’ all over thecountry all the time” ’ (Steinbeck, 11). George goes on about how Lennie “ ‘...lose[s] [him] ever’ job [he] get[s]’ ” and how he could “ ‘...live so easy’ ” if he was alone (Steinbeck, 11). After thisGeorge sees “...Lennie’s anguished face...” and is “...asham[ed]” (Steinbeck, 11). George knowsthat “ ‘...somebody’d shoot...’ ” Lennie if he was by himself and tells him that he “ ‘...want[s][him] to stay with [him]’ ” (Steinbeck, 12). This is another act of mercy on George’s part be-cause he wants to protect Lennie even though he could easily let him go. Lennie and Georgecan be looked at as dog and master, with Lennie being the dog and George as the master. Thiscan be seen when George asks Lennie to hand over a mouse and Lennie acts “...like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to it’s master..” (Steinbeck, 9). Candy and his dog were alsolifelong companions which ended with Candy’s decision to put him out of his pains of old age. Not surprisingly, at the end of the novel, George makes the same decision to kill Lenny becausehe believes it is the best thing for him. Both of these acts of mercy directly relate to each other and the overall theme of mercy.Candy, his dog, and Lennie symbolize

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