Essay title: Mercy Killing in “of Mice and Men”
The killing of Candy’s dog is an excellent example of mercy killing in the aforesaid novella.Candy’s dog was in terrible condition, and it could barely be said that the ratty old thing was even alive.It stunk like a dozen skunks, was nearly blind, could barely hear, had arthritis that was so bad, the old mutt couldn’t sit down, had no quality of life, and probably had urinary and bowel problems, a miserable condition that is almost assured in old dogs.
This instance of mercy killing, however, was more driven by peer pressure than the typical case of mercy killing.When someone kills another loved one out of mercy, it is normally done to put the afflicted one out of their misery, torment, anguish, distress, etc.The other ranch hands thought that the dog reeked more than any of its other conditions, which was the only one that they, too, could experience.
Candy’s dog loved its master, as the two had been working together for a myriad number of years.After all of the time spent together, the two had developed a strong bond for each other, and so the dog, in its old age, was constantly following Candy around.Since Candy slept in the bunkhouse, along with the other ranch hands, the dog stunk up the bunkhouse.For this reason, they could not stand it, nor did they care too much about Candy. They decided to push Candy to put the dog out of his misery by shooting him, not for the sake of the dog, but for themselves.
Candy gives in, eventually, for the sake of his dog, not the ranch hands.The killing of Candy’s old dog ended his hard, painful life and represents the grand finale of a relationship that made life worth living, as well as providing hope.Later on, Candy feels remorseful over having let Carlson kill his dog, and not himself.This mercy killing, as well as the end of a hope-giving relationship foreshadows the death of Lennie, later on in the book The other exceptional example of mercy killing in Of Mice and Men is that of the killing of Lennie Small. Lennie had many problems, both physically and mentally, that hampered him from being able to act and talk like normal people. Due to his mental issues, he neither thought nor acted correctly.
Coupling this with his massive size and strength, he truly didn’t know the limits of his own strength, and inadvertently killed many poor, helpless animals, simply due to the fact that when they tried to bite him, he “smarted them on the heads.”While this may not be an issue with the normal populace, Lennie’s ox-like strength crushed the animals’ heads, killing them.Due to his aforementioned conditions, he had made himself and George lose many job opportunities, as well as get kicked out of many towns. While many of these incidents were not his fault, but just a series of good-intentioned actions gone horribly wrong, they still happened, leading to detrimental results.He was simply incapable of acting independently; he had to have the instructions of someone else, preferably George, to be able to just act around.