Love and Violence in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men Essay

873 Words 4 Pages
Love and Violence in Of Mice and Men


In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, the characters display a definite violence directed toward those they love. "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" relates to what seems to be the destructive tendencies of the men in this book. Though Lennie's ruinous behavior originates from his childlike fascination with soft things, George and Candy appear to have almost productive reasons for causing harm. The differing means of hurting those they love emerge throughout the book in harsh words as well as in violence. Love can wound for different reasons and in different ways as in correlation with the poem, but that love is not always disastrous.


Lennie's incredible need often causes him to be "a man
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This type of hurting a love is "kindest" because, whether or not the concern is justified, the person inflicting the hurt is thinking of the beloved's welfare and not his own. Candy regrets, however, that he does not "[shoot] that dog [himself]." Whatever sympathy he has for the pet, he knows that the responsibility to spare the dog from suffering is his own. By allowing Carlson to do it, Candy is not showing the responsibility required of someone who really loves something, and so that person still goes unrepresented in the book.


Curlie's wife is the type of lover who "[strangles] with the hands of Lust". Despite the consequences that the men must face if they are with her, she still puts her own need of companionship before the vitality of the ranch's men. A "tart," Curlie's wife comes on to Lennie though he most likely does not realize that she is doing it. She stultifies by letting Lennie pet her hair despite his history in that activity. In accordance with his obsession, Lenny pets harder until she pulls away. Curlie's wife "[flops] like a fish" in his arms. Lennie's calamitous way in which he suffocates what he likes is similar to hers. It is an inconsiderate love that only serves the one person. Between the two of them, "another bad thing" has happened, and the price for this has to be paid.


Once again, the
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