How Does Steinbeck Present The Theme Of Free Will In Of Mice And Men

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The idea of will is heavily explored throughout many scenes in John Steinbecks, Of Mice and Men. Will is defined as “The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion.” Fate takes over when will is not present. Characters are constantly faced with the consequences that come with their lack of free will throughout the novel.
During chapter three, Candy’s will is challenged in relation to his dog being killed. After Slim suggests to “...put the old devil out of his misery”, the power dynamic between the two characters becomes evident. It is clear that Candy does not wish for his dog to be shot, but he has no real choice. Steinbeck writes, “Candy looked a long time at Slim to try to find …show more content…

Firstly, he mentions on countless occasions how he does not want anybody in his room. He makes note that, “Nobody got any right in here but me.” Even though he mentions this to practically every person who enters his room, he never receives any sort of compliance or response from the others. It is clear that his will and rights are not even being acknowledged. As the scene progresses, more characters engage in the conversation, one being Curley’s wife. The mood gradually tenses, leading to an attempt on Crooks’s part to force Curley’s wife to leave his room. In response, she protrudes her power over him by threatening his life. She says, “You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?...You know what I could do?...Well, you keep your place…I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny.” In this moment, the will power of Crooks becomes completely diminished. He feels as though there is nothing he could say or do in this situation. This dynamic is presented when Steinbeck writes, “Crooks stared hopelessly at her, and then he sat down on his bunk and drew into himself…Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed himself against the wall…had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego-nothing to arouse either like or dislike…his eyes averted, everything that might be hurt drawn in.” His will to speak, fight, and even live is stolen from him entirely. Even …show more content…

He mentions how it was an accident, clarifying his intentions to the readers. He feels guilty, shameful, and regretful for his actions. This makes it clear to us that Lennie truly did not mean to kill Curley’s wife, he had no will to stop what he was doing. Directly after her death he states, “I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing…I done a real bad thing…I shouldn't of did that.” Lennie feels extremely bad for what he has done. He most likely feels a bit of fear towards himself. He is scared of what his unconscious state is capable of. Later in the scene, Lennie’s mind goes into a dissociative state where he sees his Aunt Clara. As she talks to him, Lennie’s sorrow becomes more and more evident. He talks to her, "...I tried, Aunt Clara, ma'am. I tried and tried. I couldn' help it…I tried, Aunt Clara, ma'am. I tried and tried…I know, Aunt Clara, ma'am. I'll go right off in the hills an' I'll fin' a cave an' I'll live there so I won't be no more trouble to George.” Lennie stating that he ‘couldn’t help it’ provides clear evidence that he had no control over the situation. He had no will to change how the events played out. His will was absent in the unconscious state in which he killed Curley’s

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