Friday, October 11, 2019
Of Mice and Men: An Unexpected Connection
Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife come across as very different characters. They differ greatly in appearance, mentality, and personality. Despite their differences, though, Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife are surprisingly similar in the way they both constantly need to create physical connections. As a result, they are able to relate to each other, and when they are finally alone together they address each otherÃ¢â¬â¢s needs, which leads to a tragic end. Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife are extremely different people, both externally and internally. Lennie is Ã¢â¬Å"a huge man, shapeless of face, Ã¢â¬ ¦with wide, sloping shoulders,Ã¢â¬ (2) while CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife is a very Ã¢â¬Å"purtyÃ¢â¬ (28) woman with Ã¢â¬Å"full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyesÃ¢â¬ (31). Lennie has animalistic qualities and moves clumsily: Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his pawsÃ¢â¬ (2). Contrastingly, CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife is more graceful and moves very quietly, which is depicted when Candy says, Ã¢â¬Å"Jesus Christ, CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife can move quietÃ¢â¬ (82) after she had entered the stable on the way to CrooksÃ¢â¬â¢ bunk without anyone hearing her. Lennie suffers from an unknown mental illness Ã¢â¬â the other characters think heÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬Å"nutsÃ¢â¬ (74)Ã¢â¬â and as a result, he acts callow, imitating the behavior of certain animals: He drank from the pool Ã¢â¬Å"with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse,Ã¢â¬ (3) and he Ã¢â¬Å"dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his fingers so the water arose in little splashesÃ¢â¬ (3). Lennie is Ã¢â¬Å"a nice fellaÃ¢â¬ (40) who is very innocent, illustrated by how he interacts with the girl in the red dress in Weed: Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦he reaches out to feel this red dress, Ã¢â¬ ¦he jusÃ¢â¬â¢ wanted to touch that dressÃ¢â¬ (42). He is also very tractable; Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦heÃ¢â¬â¢d do any damn thingÃ¢â¬ (40) that George told him. In contrast, CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife is mentally sharper and very observant; she notices all Ã¢â¬Å"them bruisesÃ¢â¬ (80) on LennieÃ¢â¬â¢s face, which resulted from his fight with Curley, and realizes that he was the one who hurt CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s hand, not a machine. CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife is also very assertive, manipulative, and flirtatious. A clever lady, she knows how to get what she wants. The superiority of CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wifeÃ¢â¬â¢s qualities to those of Lennie later contributes to their tragic end. Both Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife have to constantly create physical connections in their lives, but each for a different reason. Lennie has an obsession with petting soft things, which he reveals to CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife: Ã¢â¬Å"I like to pet nice things with my fingers, sofÃ¢â¬â¢ thingsÃ¢â¬ (90). His obsession, which he has had since he was a child Ã¢â¬â his Aunt Clara used to give him a piece of velvet to touch Ã¢â¬â is depicted throughout the book. In the beginning of the book, Lennie finds a dead mouse and when asked why he keeps it, he answers, Ã¢â¬Å"I could pet it with my thumb wile we walked along,Ã¢â¬ (6) expressing his desire to pet things, dead or alive. He wants to pet things so badly that after George throws the mouse off into the distance to get rid of it, Lennie goes and retrieves it again. In Weed, when Lennie saw the girl in the red dress who he had never even met before, he reached out to touch it, just to feel the dress. George describes LennieÃ¢â¬â¢s obsession concerning SlimÃ¢â¬â¢s pups: Ã¢â¬Å"HeÃ¢â¬â¢ll want to sleep right out in the barn with Ã¢â¬Ëem. WeÃ¢â¬â¢ll have trouble keepinÃ¢â¬â¢ him from getting right in the box with them pupsÃ¢â¬ (38). Lennie Ã¢â¬Å"wants to pet them pups all the timeÃ¢â¬ (42). Furthermore, his dream to tend Ã¢â¬Å"furryÃ¢â¬ (16) rabbits results from his obsession. Lennie has a longing to pet every soft thing he encounters in the book and each time he fulfills his craving something unfortunate happens, foreshadowing the bookÃ¢â¬â¢s final events. He doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t know his own strength and canÃ¢â¬â¢t control his obsession. Similarly, CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife has a constant need to physically feel loved. She is someone who needs a lot of love and attention (her dream was to be an actress), which her husband will never give her. As a result, she tries to interact with any guy she can; in CrooksÃ¢â¬â¢ room when talking to Candy, Crooks, and Lennie, she admits, Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦what am I doin? StandinÃ¢â¬â¢ here talkinÃ¢â¬â¢ to a bunch of bindle stiffsÃ¢â¬ ¦anÃ¢â¬â¢ likinÃ¢â¬â¢ it because they ainÃ¢â¬â¢t nobody elseÃ¢â¬ (78). Slim comments on her behavior: Ã¢â¬Å"She ainÃ¢â¬â¢t concealinÃ¢â¬â¢ nothingÃ¢â¬ ¦ She got the eye goinÃ¢â¬â¢ all the time on everybodyÃ¢â¬ ¦ Seems like she canÃ¢â¬â¢t keep away from guysÃ¢â¬ (51). Although many of the ranchers view her as a Ã¢â¬Å"tart,Ã¢â¬ (28) I believe that CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife is a genuinely lonely person. She expresses her loneliness to Lennie: Ã¢â¬Å"I get lonelyÃ¢â¬ ¦ You can talk to people, but I canÃ¢â¬â¢t talk to nobody but CurleyÃ¢â¬ (87). Ironically, Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife, who have nearly opposite qualities, can cater to each otherÃ¢â¬â¢s need by responding to each otherÃ¢â¬â¢s obsessions. Purposely kept apart by the author through various characters for most of the book, when Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife are alone together for the first time, the already existent chemistry between them is ostensible, and the extent of their needs is so great that neither can resist acting upon them. Leading up to this final scene, LennieÃ¢â¬â¢s attraction to CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife is unequivocal. When he first sees her, his eyes Ã¢â¬Å"[move] down over her body,Ã¢â¬ (31) and when she talks Lennie watches her with fascination. Furthermore when George speaks negatively about CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife, Lennie Ã¢â¬Å"defensivelyÃ¢â¬ says, Ã¢â¬Å"SheÃ¢â¬â¢s purtyÃ¢â¬ and then later repeats, Ã¢â¬Å"Gosh, she was purtyÃ¢â¬ after which he smiles Ã¢â¬Å"admiringlyÃ¢â¬ (32). CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife knows how to relate to Lennie and speak to him on his level. After Candy tells her that CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s hand was caught in a machine, she, knowing what really happened, speaks flirtatiously to Lennie: Ã¢â¬Å"O. K. , Machine. IÃ¢â¬â¢ll talk to you later. I like machinesÃ¢â¬ (80). In the final scene, CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife indicates to Lennie that she understands his obsession; when Lennie reveals that he likes to pet things, she responds Ã¢â¬Å"Well, who donÃ¢â¬â¢t?Ã¢â¬ ¦ EverÃ¢â¬â¢body likes that. I like to feel silk anÃ¢â¬â¢ velvet. Do you like to feel velvet? Ã¢â¬ (90). Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife open up to each other, and as a result the reader learns the most about these characters from this scene; Lennie explains his obsession, while CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife explains her loneliness and need to feel loved. The reciprocal connection between them is so strong that Lennie disobeys GeorgeÃ¢â¬â¢s orders, risking his dream of tending the rabbits, and succumbs to the temptation of CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife. Her loneliness is so great that CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife, aware of the consequences, Ã¢â¬Å"[takes] LennieÃ¢â¬â¢s hand and [puts] it on her headÃ¢â¬ (90). LennieÃ¢â¬â¢s obsession overpowers him, and he continuously strokes CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wifeÃ¢â¬â¢s hair harder and harder, making her scream in pain. Afraid that George Ã¢â¬Å"ainÃ¢â¬â¢t gonna let [him] tend no rabbits,Ã¢â¬ (91) when CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t stop screaming, Lennie shakes her while covering her mouth and accidentally kills her. LennieÃ¢â¬â¢s actions illustrate his lack of self-restraint, and he is therefore viewed as a threat to society. As a result, LennieÃ¢â¬â¢s killing of CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife leads to the killing of Lennie. The characters that seem the least alike in Of Mice and Men, Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife, ironically, share a common need that enables them to have one of the strongest connections in the book, both physically and emotionally. Knowing that they have the ability to satisfy each otherÃ¢â¬â¢s needs, Lennie and CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife are in a very vulnerable situation that is full of temptation. Lennie canÃ¢â¬â¢t control his obsession and accidentally kills CurleyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife, while trying to preserve his dream to tend rabbits that is based on his obsession. The physical connections that once gave them pleasure and happiness in life lead to each of their deaths.