Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men Violence 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.
A shot sounded in the distance. The men looked quickly at the old man. Every head turned toward him.
For a moment he continued to stare at the ceiling. Then he rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent. (3.103)
Setting aside the fact that Candy really should have killed his own dog, is this a truly violent act? Or is it an act of mercy? Or—stay with us—can an act be violent and still merciful?
Lennie smiled with this bruised mouth. "I didn't want no trouble," he said. He walked toward the door, but just before he came to it, he turned back. "George?"
"What you want?"
"I can still tend the rabbits, George?"
"Sure. You ain't done nothing wrong."
"I di'n't mean no harm, George." (3.268-272)
Um, okay. Lennie may have meant no harm, but he still has a tendency to kill the animals in his care. So, maybe "doing no harm" isn't the best criteria for putting a man in charge of a warren full of rabbits.
"Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny."
Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego—nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, "Yes, ma'am," and his voice was toneless. (4.120-121)
Notice that Curley's wife doesn't threaten to lynch Crooks; she threatens to "get" him lynched. She has to do all her violence by proxy—and in the world of this novel, that makes her weak and despicable.