Is it ever justified for one human being to take the life of another?
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This is more an opinion question than a factual one. I think it is justified depending on the situation. Consider the context of the story. If George had not killed Lennie, Curley and the others would have tortured Lennie and then gunned him down. At the very least, Lennie would have been locked in a cage. George did the compassionate thing by killing Lennie while he (George) recited their farm dream.