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Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck

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Chapter 6

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 6 of John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men.

Of Mice and Men | Chapter 6 | Summary



Lennie arrives at the tranquil pool, drinks water from it, and sits and waits for George. He imagines Aunt Clara scolding him about doing bad things and not appreciating what George does for him. Lennie cries that he tries to do what is right. Then Lennie imagines a huge rabbit, which claims that Lennie cannot take good care of rabbits. The rabbit says that George is going to get sick of Lennie and leave him. Lennie cries out that George would never do this and repeats George's name. George silently appears and asks what Lennie is yelling about. When Lennie asks if George is going to leave him, George says no, reassuring Lennie.

Lennie is surprised that George is not scolding him. George repeats the words he usually says when he scolds Lennie, but without any feeling behind them. Lennie asks George to tell him how they are different from other guys. George says they're different because they have each other. Lennie cries triumphantly, "We got each other, that's what." George tells Lennie to take off his hat and look across the river. Lennie obeys. George removes Carlson's Luger from his side pocket. He looks at the back of Lennie's head and begins to describe how great their life will be on their small farm. He hears the lynch mob approaching, and when Lennie asks him to go on with his description, George says, "Ever'body gonna be nice to you. Ain't gonna be no more trouble." The voices of the mob are close. George points the gun at the back of Lennie's head. George's hand shakes violently, but he manages to fire, and Lennie jars and slumps forward on the sand.

Curley, Carlson, Slim, and other members of the mob burst onto the scene and see that George has shot and killed Lennie. Carlson assumes George took the gun away from Lennie and shot him. George agrees. Slim tries to console George, saying, "You hadda, George. I swear you hadda." Slim and George head up a trail toward the highway. Curley and Carlson look after them. Carlson says, "Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin' them two guys?"


In Chapter 6, Steinbeck completes his development of the themes of entrapment, loneliness and friendship, and the dream. Lennie hides out at the tranquil pool, just as George told him to. When George arrives, Lennie is surprised that his friend is not following his usual behavior by scolding him. In fact, Lennie has to prompt George to repeat his scolding speech. George does so, but without any emotion. George knows he and Lennie are caught in the trap and that there is no way out. George is faced with limited options: let the lynch mob kill Lennie, convince the mob to arrest Lennie, or kill Lennie himself. George decides on the latter option because he is Lennie's close friend. George feels that killing Lennie himself quickly and without Lennie's knowledge is more humane than submitting Lennie to the horrors and taunts of mob violence and possible long-term incarceration in a mental hospital.

To make what he is about to do as painless for Lennie as possible, George has Lennie look across the river, and he calms him by describing their dream. As George describes the dream, it comes to resemble a vision of heaven where nothing can harm a person. As George tells Lennie, "Nobody gonna hurt nobody nor steal from 'em."

George's killing of Lennie by the tranquil pool creates situational irony. As the reader has seen, the pool is a symbol that represents a safe haven for George and Lennie. However, it is in this "safe" place that George chooses to kill Lennie. In this life, there is no place of safety that is truly free from troubles and abuse.

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