Of Mice and Men
A different approach to this question is that our life’s destiny is predetermined for us, but based on the choices we make; we choose the path to take to meet that destiny. Choice, as mentioned earlier, relates to the act of choosing. In the case of Of Mice and Men, there are many choices that the characters have made. Resulting in either pleasant or unpleasant circumstances. George chooses to look after Lennie after his Aunt Clara dies. George is often seen getting angry at Lennie as shown in this quote from the novella: “Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want. God a’ mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy.
I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all. ” “An’ whatta I got? I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time. An’ that ain’t the worst. You get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out. ” (Of Mice and Men George-Chapter 1, Steinbeck) He seems to act in a naive manner towards Lennie some times. But the rest of the time he respects Lennie and understands him, guiding him in the way a father would guide a child. Lennie acts in a very ego-centric manner and does not totally understand how or why things happen.
He does know that he has done a ‘bad thing’ as he calls it, but he has no control over his actions. He is too strong for his own good and gets anxious when he cannot refrain from accidentally hurting someone. He didn’t feel that having a dead mouse in his pocket was bad. But he started to worry when he killed the puppy, Curley’s wife and crushing Curley’s hand. This was all caused, not by choice, but by his own blinded strength. Candy, an aged farm hand, had the choice to kill his dog, yet he decides against it and lets Carlson, a worker on the ranch, do it instead.
Would the dog have ended with the same fate, but in a different way, if Carlson hadn’t interfered? By the looks of the dog it was inevitable that it was going to pass away soon, but Candy chose its parting way for it. Fate, as described earlier, is where events are unalterably predetermined from eternity. In Of Mice and Men fate is basically the key feature of the novella. The title of the story, Of Mice and Men comes from an old Robert Burns poem called ‘To a Mouse’. There is a quote in the poem that Steinbeck uses for the title of the novella and it works very well to describe what happens in the story: Buy, Mousie, thou art no thy lane, In proving foresight may be vain; The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley, [often go astray] (Robert Burns, 1785) “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go astray” fits perfectly in with this story. George, Lennie and Candy all plan to own a farm once they have been paid enough on the ranch. This is known as ‘The Dream’. This dream is their Saving Lie. They believe that it is going to become true. But there is always that inkling that it is just a dream. With the quote above it says that the best plans of mice and men will often go astray.
This happens in Of Mice and Men, the fact that Lennie dies signals to George and Candy that the Dream was never real, just something to keep them going, to make life worth living. It was, always from the beginning, inevitable that Lennie was going to die at some stage near the end. This was shown with the use of foreshadowing. John Steinbeck uses imagery to represent characters, in nature, to foreshadow coming events. The river, the water-snake, the sunset and the heron. The water-snake – temptation and downfall, the heron – one being tempted, the river – journey/cyclic, sunset- end of something, start of a new beginning.
It was also inevitable that Curley’s wife would die. The lead up to the death is quite obvious. The attraction Lennie has to her and the way she talks to him. Also at the scene where she dies there is some back-tracking. In Weed Lennie felt that girl’s soft red dress, this led to trouble, and George and Lennie had to leave. In the barn he felt her soft hair. This led to his vice-like grip not letting go and a dreadful end for her. This simple quote perfectly explains Lennie’s actions, and why he does the things he does: “The fly is attracted to the light” (scribd. com) Lennie takes the old, “think before you act” way.
He does not know what he is really doing until it is done. Is Of Mice and Men a story about choice or fate? We can never really and truly decide because it is made up of a little bit of both. As mentioned before, our life’s destiny is predetermined for us, but based on the choices we make; we choose the path to take to meet that destiny. George chose to go to the ranch, and that is where a great amount of Lennie’s misfortunes were encountered, yet even if George had gone to a different town, we can assume that Lennie would still have done something bad enough to get himself killed.
Slim, a worker on the ranch chooses to give Lennie the puppy which led to Lennie being in the barn, at the time when Curley’s wife was killed. But would he have snuck into the barn anyway to pet the puppies? One of the most puzzling questions we can ask ourselves is, did George choose to kill Lennie or was that fate? George knew that Lennie would either get killed by Curley, in a horrible way or he would have been taken to court and put into prison. This would have put in Lennie utmost despair because George would not have been there with him to explain to him what was happening and why.
Georges only other option would have been to kill Lennie himself. If he had only prevented all of these threats from happening then it would just be putting off the obvious fact that Lennie was dangerous, and he might have killed more people. In conclusion, neither fate nor choice can be separated from each other to explain what this book is about. The ending would have been happier if Lennie had have listened to George and not talked Curley’s wife. But if they had gone to another town, and not this ranch. Then it was obvious that he probably would have killed there to.
We all make choices in our everyday lives, but the question is, is our life ruled by an unquestionable fate that we will all live up to, or are the choices we make what will finally lead us to our chosen fate? This question can be tossed and turned for many years to come but really it is all up to what we believe and how people portray this question to us through writing and film. Of Mice and Men is a perfect story to explain what fate and the choices is all about and that the choices we make to lead up to that final destiny.