The final chapter begins with Lennie waiting in the brush for George to arrive. He attempts to calm himself, so talks to himself, however only repeating that George will be mad and give him hell. Lennie becomes so agitated that he hallucinates. First, he sees his Aunt Clara, who has been dead for years, scolding him for doing bad things. Then she disappears and a giant rabbit appears before Lennie’s eyes, telling him that George is going to be mad at him and he’s going to beat him up.
Finally, George appears, he attempts to reassure Lennie by saying their dream can still happen. George hears the sound of men in the distance and realises what he must do. He distracts Lennie by repeating their dream. With Lennie distracted George takes Carlson’s gun out of his jacket. He tells Lennie that he’s not mad and that they’re going to go to that farm really soon, and then he shoots Lennie right in the back of the head. Lennie dies instantly.
The men arrive, only to see Lennie lying dead on the ground. Slim immediately knows what has happened, but he’s the only one. George attempts to explain Lennie’s death, he lies by saying that Lennie had stolen the gun, so George had to wrestle it away from him and then shot him in self-defence.
Reality begins to hit George as well as the guilt, that he hasn’t just lost his best friend but the dream that has kept him moving forward for years. This death parallels the death of Candy’s dog and was also foreshadowed by the escalating deaths. Starting with animals, first a small mouse, then a small puppy, then a younger woman Curley’s wife and ending with the biggest person in the story (Lennie). Whilst showing the need for friendship, because without Lennie, George is no different from any of the other workers who travel alone and have no one to care about them.
Of Mice and Men is centred around two ranch workers, George and Lennie. The story is based in California in the 1930s as they start work on a ranch in a place called ‘Soledad’ (a Spanish word meaning ‘solitude’). The entire story takes place over a period of just four days, starting on a Thursday evening and ending on the Sunday. Throughout this time George and Lennie meet other characters, who emphasise the isolation and difficulty of life for the people working and in these places.
George is a small, intelligent man who looks after his friend Lennie, a large, strong man who has a learning disability. Lennie’s disability and failure to understand his strength prove to be a huge problem. The constant theme throughout the story, is the two men discussing their dream of owning their own ranch and working for themselves, however by the end of the book Lennie has accidentally killed a woman and George’s only option is to shoot him before he is caught, which as a result ends their dream.
This brief novel touches upon many important societal issues, including the plight of the migrant workers during the Great Depression, racism and sexism during that time as well as the lack of care or facilities for the disabled.