Written ca. 2002. This is a philosophical dialog based on the characters in Of Mice and Men discussing the ethics of the death of Lenny. Written in the Aristotle style of setting figures in dialog.

Characters

GEORGE
In his thirties. Ten years ago he murdered his mentally disabled cousin, Lenny. He has been in prison since that time, contemplating the crime he committed.

CURLEY
In his thirties. Ten years go his wife was murdered by the aforementioned Lenny. Curley had intended to kill Lenny himself, but by the time he tracked Lenny down, he discovered that George had already completed the task.

CANDY
In his eighties, African American. He had been an acquaintance of George and Curley.

ACT I

SCENE 1

(In the damp and dank prison cell, Curley and Candy enter by candlelight. George greets them, though somewhat hesitantly.)

GEORGE
How is it that you are still alive, Candy?

CANDY
Chance I guess, people are living longer these days.

CURLEY
Why do you care so much for the condition of this old man?

GEORGE
If you don’t care, then why did you come here?

CURLEY
Therein lays the evident question, I did not choose to come here. The author of this dialog assigned me as one of the voices of this piece.

CANDY
Therein lays the evident idiotism, as I recall we did not use such language at the time of our previous relationship.

GEORGE
Therein lays the matter of discussion I would like to bring up, being that it is that issue which has brought me into these dampened depths to begin with.

CANDY
You refer to the untimely death of Lennie.

GEORGE
I do. For many years now, as I’ve lain upon the reformatory bunk, my mind has pondered deeply the association I had with his demise.

CANDY
And what have been your thoughts.

GEORGE
Only of my own upcoming end.

CANDY
You refer to the bowels of Hell.

GEORGE
I do, for though these prison walls have treated me unkindly I expect no mercy from whatever may lay in the hereafter. I ask of you Curley, would the demise that besought Lennie have been that of which he was ended.

CURLEY
It would have been, George.

GEORGE
Then I am unthankful, for I have done no good.

CURLEY
Is that to say that I would have done evil?

GEORGE
It is, but it is to say more than that as well. It is to say, in fact, that we are brothers, you and I, for our thoughts are the same, we are murderers, both of us.

CURLEY
Perhaps in heart, but it was you who truly brought death.

GEORGE
But did you not taste the wrath when you found that your revenge had been taken.

CURLEY
You refer to my deficient wife.

GEORGE
I do. For we both know of the joy felt when we were relieved of him. You relieved of your revenge, and I relieved of my burden. Unfortunate, however, that my burden has only become greater since that time.

CURLEY
You refer to your captivity?

GEORGE
Nay, I do not. I refer to the load that encumbers my soul. For there is no forgiveness for an executioner.

CURLEY
But isn’t it also true that Lennie was a murderer, and should not a murderer be put to death? You were merely carrying out the law.

GEORGE
You are wrong. Firstly I was not carrying out the law as I had no legal ordinance on the matter.

CURLEY
And secondly?

GEORGE
Lennie was never guilty. He may have killed, yes, but unawares of his actions for he was as a child.

CURLEY
But he was a child that would never grow into adulthood, and it has been made clear the dangers of such a child.

GEORGE
True, he was as a child with abilities beyond his control. But throughout history there have been men whom have abilities beyond their control. Was not Napoleon guilty?

CURLEY
He was.

GEORGE
He had power beyond his control, great armies, and navies. If such a man had not great armies or navies would he have been a wicked man?

CURLEY
Perhaps not.

GEORGE
But Napoleon was a wicked man, nonetheless.

CURLEY
My viewpoint on the matter has not changed.

GEORGE
Then it is clear that a man is responsible for his actions based on his control.

CURLEY
It is.

GEORGE
Then is a child accountable for his actions.

CURLEY
I think that he is, but my understanding is that you believe differently.

GEORGE
I do.

CURLEY
Indulge me on the matter.

GEORGE
Such a man as Napoleon has claimed his power, and though he has little control over his power, it had been claimed by him nonetheless and therefore he is responsible. Such a child as Lennie has not claimed his strength, nevertheless it was forced upon him as he had no choice on the matter of his body entering into adulthood whereas his mind did not.

CURLEY
Then your claim is that man is responsible for power he gains when he claims it for himself, whereas a man who does not claim power for himself is not responsible for it.

GEORGE
Aye, that is my claim.

CURLEY
I am tempted to concur, but I require pondering on the matter.

GEORGE
Ponder it then. And if you would like, report your thoughts to me.

CANDY
Shall we depart.

GEORGE
Yes, depart now, and leave me to contemplate upon my thoughts.

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