Pain in "Of Mice and Men"

In John Steinbeck’s book “Of Mice and Men”, he shows us the people's pain during the Great Depression. Steinbeck demonstrates different types of pain through different character without the book. Candy is a crippled ranch swamper. Crooks is black stable buck with a back disability. Curley’s Wife, who married a possessive man. Lennie has a mental disability and is too strong for his own good. George faces a series of suffering, mainly caused from Lennie.

Candy is forced to deal with the pain of his dog.

Candy had owned the dog since it was just a puppy and raised it as his own, making him blind to the fact that the dog could no longer support its own age. Carlson, another worker on the rach, was fed up with the dog. “He ain’t no good to you, Candy. An’ he ain’t no good to himself. Why’n’t you shoot him, Candy?”, he says (pg44). Carlson worked to convince Candy to let him take the dog out behind the barn and put it out of its misery.

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Eventually, Candy relents and forces himself into a state of dissociation as he hears the bullet leaves the gun and kills his dog.

Curley’s Wife is known to the men because of her flirty behavior, as well as a specific “look” that she has shown each of the men including Crooks. But when talking to Lennie alone towards the end of the book, she reveals that she only married Curley because she didn’t know what else to do after a movie producer promised to call and never did.

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She confides in Lennie, saying “I ain’t told this to nobody before. Maybe I ought’n to. I don’t like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella” (pg 89). She felt trapped after her parents restricted her from following her dreams of becoming a movie star and was looking for some way to escape. But due to Curley, every man on the ranch would flee from her company in fear of being caught with her alone. Curley, however, seemed to be protective of his ego rather than his wife. After revealing what her true past was, Lennie’s mental instability got the best of him, and he accidentally broke her neck.

During their travel to their new job on the ranch, we come to understand that Lennie has an almost child-like behavior to him. Lennie’s pain was different because he had no control over it. It is unknown what the exact problem is, but it is clear that Lennie suffers from a serious mental disability. He has a terrible memory, and fixates on specific things to the point of obsession. George is constantly reminding him of things that happened in the past. At one point, Lennie even forgets the name of the woman that raised him, referring to her as ‘a lady’. George replies, “Lady, huh? Don’t even remember who that lady was? That was your own Aunt Clara” (pg 9). But his worst mistake is his painful eagerness to make George happy, this is what leads him to kill both his puppy he got from Carlson, and Curley’s wife.

The final character who seemed to endure more pain than anyone else was George. George had many chances to abandon Lennie for his disability, he didn’t. George, however, seems to have a fear that Lennie is going to get them both killed as he had done in previous towns. Whenever he needed to comfort George, he would tell him the story of the farm they were planning on creating together. “Go on George, tell about how it’s gonna be! Go on now, George!”, Lennie would say delightedly (pg 14). And George would tell him about the farm, and the crops, and the rabbits. It finally came to a point, though, where George could no longer protect Lennie from himself. He knew that after the death of Curley’s wife, there was no way to save Lennie. George’s form of pain was being forced into making a difficult decision of letting his only true friend die happily at his own hands, or violently by the hands of people he hardly knew. He decided it would be better if Lennie died while living the life they had hoped to live together on the form of Lennie’s favorite story. So he painted him a picture of their farm one last time, put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger.

In conclusion, “Of Mice and Men” is a classic tale that deals with different types of pain, varying among the characters. Loneliness, discrimination, ignorance, impossible decisions, and death can all play a role in the pain of other people. Finally, this story shows how cruel the world can be, and proving that not everyone gets a happy ending.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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Pain in "Of Mice and Men". (2022, Jan 24). Retrieved from

Pain in "Of Mice and Men" essay
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