“Mice and Mercy Killing” Analysis

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In the 1930s, the one thing most Americans strived to achieve was the American Dream. This included owning your own land and being independent but in order to do it, Americans needed to work. In the book, Of Mice and men, the two main characters try to achieve the American dream and look for work. The main characters Lennie and George find work on a farm. The two-characters make an interesting duo because Lennie is mentally challenged and big while George is small and is always looking out for Lennie. But unfortunately Lennie accidentally killed the wife of the farm owner’s son, giving George few options, but in the end, George decided that killing Lennie was the most viable option. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Georges act of killing Lennie was justified because mercy killings may be required during drastic situations in society. Initially, George killing Lennie was out of mercy because he felt responsible for Lennie and that it would’ve been worse for Lennie to live without the American Dream. In the story, this quote shows what the dream was to Lennie “‘An’ live off the fatta the lan’,’ Lennie shouted.’’An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it.

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Tell bout that George.’”(Steinbeck 16-17) This quote shows how important this dream was to Lennie, and how it would affect him if he couldn’t achieve the dream. The American Dream was like an actual dream to Lennie, and George didn’t want to crush that dream for Lennie. When George found out what Lennie did he was searching for many solutions to save Lennie“ “Couldn’t we maybe bring him in an’ they’ll lock him up? He’s nuts, Slim. He never done this to be mean.” Slim nodded. “We might,” he said. “If we could keep Curley in, we might. But Curley’s gonna want to shoot ‘im. Curley’s still mad about his hand. An’ s’pose they lock him up an’ strap him down and put him in a cage. That ain’t no good, George.” “I know,” said George,(Steinbeck 94)“I know.” In the story, George knows Lennie better than anyone else and knows that everything bad that Lennie does is not on purpose.

However, he concludes that it would be way worse for Lennie to be locked up knowing that he will never be able to have the American Dream. In the end, George felt responsible for Lennie and had known him the best, so he decided that it was better for him to die with the idea of the American Dream instead living the rest of his life imprisoned without it. Consequently, mercy killing may be required during certain complicated situations in society whether it be deciding what happens to a loved one who is incapacitated or trying to help someone who is in an immense amount of suffering. There are many many tough situations that may involve mercy killing, this being one of them “Frances Inglis, aged 57, killed her son Tom, aged 22. He had been in a vegetative state for several months, having fallen from an ambulance and hit his head on the pavement. There was no hope of his ever recovering, let alone living life and living it more abundantly. His brave mother, who is studying for a nursing diploma, tried to kill him by the injection of pure heroin.”(Mercy killing is not a crime). In this situation, the mother should’ve had been allowed to have the choice of relieving her son from his suffering. His mother may have known what his final wishes were and that mercy killing was wah he might have wanted.

In some situations people in pain may not be able to die quickly “Just such an injustice was the conviction last week of Dr Nigel Cox, a British hospital consultant, for the attempted murder of Lillian Boyes–a dying patient in apparently unrelievable agony who asked to die, and did so after Dr. Cox injected her with potassium chloride”, and “Mrs. Boyes was dying of an unusually large number of complications of an unusually severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. Being touched made her scream. She asked to be killed, and her family wanted her to wish to be granted. A common practice in such cases is to give large doses of opiates, knowing that this will speed the end as well as ease the pain. A doctor can ease his own conscience by telling himself that he does not intend to kill but to lessen pain. This casuistry could not save Dr. Cox. Mrs. Boyes survived massive doses of heroin; and so did her agony’”(The kindness that kills). In this situation, the woman was in an extreme amount of pain and survived many medicines that were meant to ease the pain. She had given had wanted to die, and was in an immense amount of pain so in this situation mercy killing may have been the best option. Today in society they’re many circumstances that the best outcome for maybe mercy killing that may include deciding the final wishes of a loved one or helping someone who is terminally ill, in extreme pain, and wants it to stop. In the end, Georges act of killing Lennie was justified because mercy killings may be the most logical thing to do during conflicting circumstances in society.

George had known Lennie the best and that the American Dream was like an actual dream to Lennie. He thought that it would’ve been better for Lennie to die with the dream than being imprisoned without it. Certain situations in day to day life may require someone to relieve a loved one who is incapacitated and is in pain. Even in situations that involve a person who is an intolerable pain and is asking to be killed, mercy killing should be considered. Finally, in order for society to understand the concept of mercy, the idea of mercy killing should be thought of.

Works Cited

  1. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Penguin Books, 1994. Print.
  2. ‘The kindness that kills.’ The Economist, 26 Sept. 1992, p. 17.
  3. Global Issues in Context. Mercy killing is not a crime – it is a brave and selfless act of love.’ Independent on Sunday [London, England], 24 Jan. 2010, p. 44. Global 
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"Mice and Mercy Killing" Analysis. (2022, Feb 04). Retrieved October 7, 2022 , from
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