Tell About When We Gonna Beat Them Rabbits, George

Lennie, the idealistic, good-natured oaf from John Steinbeck's classic, Of Mice and Men, has a bit of a bad record when it comes to not killing things. He doesn't mean to, of course - he just happens to be physically strong and has a penchant for petting animals (and people) he likes. And, of course, he's a little slow - let's be honest, he's probably not going to be killing it on his AP Calculus final. But are these innate qualities all that are to blame for Lennie's excessive aggressiveness, or is the violent culture by which he is surrounded partially at fault?

It's not like Lennie's world is all kittens and rainbows (as much as he'd probably love that). Just within the framework of this particular story, he and George encounter Curley, the ranch boss' son, who likes to pick fights and, in fact, used to box professionally, a dog is shot dead (to be put out of its misery, but still an example of violence), practically everyone carries a gun, and there are continuous threats and irate screaming on the part of just about every major character at one point or another. It's like growing up as a member of the Bundy family. Al and Peg, or Ted - take your pick.

Okay, so he's surrounded by violence, but does that necessarily make him violent? Why not ask all of the researchers who are attempting to prove that shoot €em up video games and violent, gory films are partly responsible for the high crime rate we have in today's society? You've certainly heard that argument before, and it's one issue that is pretty strongly debated on both sides. Some feel that promoting this culture of violence instills a certain sadistic predisposition in the user or viewer. If everyone you see (fictional or otherwise) seems to be maiming someone else or riddling them with bullets, why shouldn't you? Others argue that these games attract only those individuals who already exhibit naturally aggressive behavior, or else those who are able to adequately distinguish mores of the real world from those of the somewhat more fantastical world of fiction.

And how much is all of the stress Lennie has to deal with responsible for his violent tendencies? Forced to run from town to town, ridiculed or attacked by various individuals he comes into contact with, not to mention the stress of having to wait to get them rabbits. You have a lot of stress in your own life, but it's not like you're about to go out and break some innocent woman's neck just because you're drowning in ACT Prep.

There seem to be a lot of external factors that would make many people in Lennie's situation act out in a physical manner; however, it's Lennie. The guy's a total sweetheart, and wouldn't hurt a fly. Not intentionally, anyway. More likely is the explanation that he quite simply doesn't know his own strength, and continues to harm those he loves despite his extreme desire not to do anything of the sort. Although he does, perhaps, spend a little too much time playing Mortal Kombat.

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