Of Mice and Men

how do the characters in Lennie's dream treat him? What emotional needs do these hallucinations fulfill?

Chapter 6

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Emphasizing the delusional nature of Lennie's point-of-view, Steinbeck adapts his one experimental narrative gesture in the novel, choosing to depict two hallucinations - first Aunt Clara, and then (more ludicrous still) a giant sardonic rabbit. It is unclear whether we are supposed to understand these hallucinations to be one-time phenomena or regularly recurring. (By the way, the reader may find it a bit unbelievable that this gentle giant, who everywhere else proves incapable of understanding figurative language, is able to imaginatively generate such colorful self-chastisements as "you ain't worth a greased jack-pin to ram you into hell" (112).)

Either way, Chapter Six represents our closest approach to Lennie's experience - his simultaneous fear and love of authority figures, his relentless obsession with the rabbits, and his constant (if confused) regret that he never fails to act in a confused and problematic way. Lennie, social pack animal that he is, has a deep-seated need for discipline and forgiveness. His self-chastisement is quite moving, both because it reveals a degree of self-understanding in Lennie and because it suggests that he is regularly and brutally upset with himself. His remorse hardly counts as a conscience - at no point does he register that he has committed murder, only that he has done yet another inscrutable "bad thing" - but it makes a claim on the reader's sympathy nevertheless.