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Of Mice and Men

In many pieces of literature authors discuss human potential.

In the novel Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck Illustrates human potential

and its effects on Lennie Crooks and George. Steinbeck suggests humans

have the natural potential to seek happiness although the potential can

be fatal or harmful.

Although Lennie does not have the potential to be smart, Lennie

has the potential to be a hard worker. However, Lennie’s strength did

not work with him and the result was fatal. Lennie is an extremely

large man who had the strength of a bull. With the use of his strength,

he was great worker but did not understand how strong he was. George

alone than most pairs can"( Steinbeck 34). Through his size and his

enormous amount of strength Lennie could out work the other men of the

ranch by himself. Through the use of Lennie’s strength he became a

great worker who knew nothing more than to work. Lennie uses his

potential to work hard, but does not understand how strong he is.

Without George, Lennie does not understand what to do. Lennie gets

frightened and uses his strength to hold on to objects. Lennie is just

like a child. He will do what ever George tells him to: "Curely was

flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie’s

hand. George slapped [Lennie] in the face again and again and still

Lennie held on(63). Through Lennie’s actions we can see that Lennie is

very similar to a child. Lennie’s first instinct when he is scared is

to hold on. Just as a little kid holds on to its mom or dad when they

become frightened, Lennie holds on to objects. Because of Lennie’s low

intelligence to understand his strength, he becomes frightened and kills

Curley’s wife and as a result, she ends up being killed by is

potential: "She took Lennie’s hand and put it on her head… And then she

cried angrily. Lennie’s fingers closed on her hair and hung on. He

shook her and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still"(91).

Lennie did not understand his strength and became frightened, and

once again just like just like a little child he held on. But he ended

up breaking Curley’s wife neck. As a result of his actions Lennie ended

up dead. Lennie had an extremely great potential to use his strength

and become a great worker. However his difficulty to understand his

strength lead to his death.

Unlike Lennie Crooks potential is his knowledge, and Crooks has

the ability to use his knowledge to, try to escape the problems he has

on the ranch. However Crooks falls back into a 1930s attitude and

chooses to neglect his knowledge. Crooks also uses his knowledge to

express his ideas and feelings to Lennie. "Books ain’t no good. A guy

needs somebody to be near him… A guy goes nuts if ain’t got nobody".(72)

Crooks is proving that he is a very knowledgeable man When around others

he may chooses to use his knowledge to express his ideas and become a

stronger influence. Crooks uses his wisdom to express his ideas and

feelings and leave a very strong impact. Crooks has the likelihood

to use his knowledge, but how he uses his wisdom will determine his

fate. ‘"I said s’pose George don’t come back no more. S’pose he took

a powder and just ain’t coming back. What’ll you do then?’… ‘He

won’t do it’ Lennie cried…. ‘He’ll come back tonight’---"(71). Crooks

is using his knowledge as a power trip on Lennie who does not understand

what Crooks is saying. Crooks is doing this because he has never had

a chance to use his knowledge in such way before, but is really abusing

it. Crooks chooses to use his knowledge around Lennie. But when a higher

authority is around Crooks chooses to ignore it for his own safety.

‘"Listen nigger’, [Curley’s wife] said, (y)ou know what I can do to you

if you open your trap?’… Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed

himself against the wall …. ‘Yes ma’am’, and his voice was toneless"(80).

When a higher authority is present Crooks chooses to ignore his

knowledge because he is scared to speak out for fear of losing his job.

Despite Crooks, knowledge he chooses to ignore it around higher

authority, this ending up in a 1930’s attitude with his knowledge going

to waste.

Unlike Lennie or Crooks George has the potential to be his own

boss. If George does not work hard enough his potential to be his own

boss will be lost and his dream will be crushed. George has always

wanted to be his own boss. When he sees that the potential is there,

George tries to act on it. George says: ‘"We’d just go there, we wouldn’t

ask nobody if we could’"(61). George would love to be his own boss

and do his own thing, mainly because George would not have to take

orders from any one. To accomplish being his own boss, George tries to

save his money so that he can buy the ranch: ‘"If me an’ Lennie work one

month an’ don’t spen’ nothing, well have a hundred bucks"’(60). To

fulfill his potential to be his own boss, George says he will save his

money and not spend any. If George can accomplish this he will be his

own boss. When Lennie breaks Curley’s wife’s neck, George realizes that

the potential to be his own boss is lost. Candy says: " ‘You an’ me

can get that little place, can’t we George?’… Candy

dropped his head and looked down at the hay. He knew"(94). Now that

Lennie has broken Curley’s wife’s neck, George realizes that his

possibility of being his own boss is gone. Without Lennie, George feels

there is no hope. As a result the potential to be his own boss is lost.

George has a great potential to be his own boss, but with the death of

Lennie, George loses hope. George has chosen his fate to be a worker

and not to be his own boss.

In his novel, Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck illustrates to us

that all humans have the potential to do well, but how they use their

potential will determine their fate. Lennie, Crooks and George all have

one thing on their mind: to accomplish their potential and make it

reality. If they do not use their potential It can a source of pain and

an unfulfilled dream.


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