The Mercy in Murder

There is more life in death if the life was to be full of suffering and George knew this when he killed his best friend. In the novella Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Lennie is a slow-witted, yet gentle man with unthinkable strength. George and Lennie are migrant workers, traveling from job to job without stability, getting replaced and replacing men themselves. They come across a job on a ranch and decide to seize it, though soon trouble arises. While Lennie is in the barn, Curley's wife comes in and everything changes, for Lennie, accidentally kills Curley's wife by breaking her neck. This outrages all the other men on the ranch besides George. The men decide to make Lennie pay by killing him too, and so they are sent on a wild goose chase, but George knows where to look. He finds Lennie and kills him before the other men can, neatly and quickly to help and save Lennie. George made the correct choice by killing Lennie, and rescuing him from further pain.

Carlson, Curley, and the other men would have put Lennie into a time of agony. Before they start to chase Lennie, Curley explodes, "'I'll shoot 'im in the guts...I'm gonna shoot the guts outa that big bastard myself...I'm gonna get 'im'" (Steinbeck 98). Curly would have shot Lennie in the stomach, which is one of the most painful deaths, owing to the fact that it kills the person slowly, not quickly and pain-free. Earlier in the story Candy has his dog shot by another man, and says that he should have done it himself. This also influences George to kill Lennie himself because Lennie will be tortured and killed by someone who wants revenge, not someone who loves Lennie and cares for him. George takes it upon himself to perform a mercy killing on Lennie because Lennie is like family to George, and family helps one another, not let them suffer. In a parallel situation, millionaire Gigi Jordan executed a mercy killing on her autistic son, Jude, for her son was being abused on many occasions. "He [Jude] told her Tzekov [Jordan's husband] had shoved feces in his mouth, stuck needles under his fingernails, and stabbed him in the hand repeatedly in addition to sexual abuse" (Rosenberg). When people love someone so much, they will save them from anything, because death is better than torment. Not only was Jude abused by his own father, but also almost half a dozen, and because he was suffering so much, Jordan decided enough was enough. Seeing that Jude would just continue to be abused, Jordan decided to end Jude's suffering with a mercy killing. Likewise, George killed Lennie to save him the abuse, slow and painful death at the hands of angry men with a mercy killing. Mercy killing has its name for a reason because it would be more merciful to kill someone quickly and painlessly than to let them suffer.

It is often thought George should not have killed Lennie because Lennie could always learn from his mistake. Contrarily, Lennie has a mental disability which suppresses his ability to learn. Similarly, a man, John Wise shot his wife to save her from pain and also because "...it was not likely that she was ever going to recover to the point where she could care for herself" (Rivera). George was faced with the same problem because Lennie will never be able to support himself due to his mental disability, and he will always be making the same mistake of hurting or killing animals and people. George explained to Lennie how he always kills the mice he is given. Lennie will not learn from his mistakes owing to the fact that after he kills one mouse, he continues on, does the same action, and kills another mouse again. George knows Lennie will never change and knows that even if they do run away, the same events will happen again and again, for Lennie is incapable of learning. There was no escaping the future. George only helped along what was going to happen; one way or another Lennie would die. George made sure it was the best way.

If Lennie were to live on, his future would only hold suffering and agonizing pain, from his mental disability to the angry men who would murder him cruelly. George had no choice other than to kill Lennie, and by doing this, he not only shows passion and selflessness but also more love that can be measured. George taking Lennie's life also took his future of torture, which is the only thing someone could ask for in a human - to be treated, loved, and saved like family.


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