Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men Justice Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph) Though Steinbeck did not originally include chapter numbers with the text, most editions are broken into six sections, based on day and time of day: Thursday evening = Chapter 1; Friday day = Chapter 2; Friday evening = Chapter 3; Saturday night = Chapter 4; Sunday afternoon = Chapter 5; Sunday evening = Chapter 6.
"O.K.," said George. "An' you ain't gonna do no bad things like you done in Weed, neither."
Lennie looked puzzled. "Like I done in Weed?"
"Oh, so ya forgot that too, did ya? Well, I ain't gonna remind ya, fear ya do it again."
A light of understanding broke on Lennie's face.
"They run us outa Weed," he exploded triumphantly.
"Run us out, hell," said George disgustedly. "We run. They was lookin' for us, but they didn't catch us."
Lennie giggled happily. "I didn't forget that, you bet." (1.50-55)
Lennie obviously has no concept of consequences, since he can't even remember the wrong that he did. So we have to ask: it just for George to keep dragging Lennie around with him? Or should George have taken action before Lennie ended up killing someone?
[George] heard Lennie's whimpering cry and wheeled about. "Blubberin' like a baby! Jesus Christ! A big guy like you!" Lennie's lip quivered and tears started in his eyes. "Aw, Lennie!" George put his hand on Lennie's shoulder. "I ain't takin' it away jus' for meanness. That mouse ain't fresh, Lennie; and besides, you've broke it pettin' it. You get another mouse that's fresh and I'll let you keep it a little while." (1.76)
George is just trying to be nice to Lennie by offering him another mouse—but what kind of justice is offering up innocent mice as sacrificial petting victims?
"Lennie—if you jus' happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an' hide in the brush… Hide in the brush till I come for you." (1.130)
We're starting to suspect that George doesn't have much sense of justice. He knows that Lennie doesn't mean any harm, but the fact is that he does harm: he kills mice; he terrifies women; and he's going to end up killing someone. We have to say it: maybe George shouldn't be protecting Lennie.