Chapter 6 of ‘Of Mice and Men’ reveals the fates of the two main characters, George and Lennie, and the events leading up to the conclusion. Read this lesson for a summary of the chapter.
Alone at the River
When Chapter 6 of Of Mice and Men opens, we see Lennie by the pool of the Salinas River where he is supposed to wait for George. He’s talking to himself, saying, ”George gonna give me hell” because he killed the puppy and Curley’s wife.
He starts hallucinating his Aunt Clara who says to him, ”I tol’ you, ‘Min’ George because he’s such a nice fella an’ good to you. But you don’t never take no care. You do bad things.” Lennie then begins seeing a giant, anthropomorphic rabbit, which rebukes him for his actions, telling him he’ll never be able to tend the rabbits and that George will beat him.
When Lennie protests that George has never hurt him, the rabbit continues scaring him, making Lennie yell out for George.
George, on his way to their hiding spot, hears Lennie cry out for him and asks Lennie why he’s yelling. Lennie explains that he is afraid George will leave him because, he says, ”I done another bad thing.” ”’It don’t make no difference,’ George said, and he fell silent again.” Lennie asks George to tell him again why they’re different from other men, so George tells him their difference is that they have each other.
George is unusually quiet and kind during their conversation, giving the reader a hint at what’s about to happen.George removes his hat and tells Lennie to as well since the ”air is fine.” After Lennie does so, George has him look across the river while he tells him about their dream of the farm and the rabbits. As George tells the story, he pulls Carlson’s gun from his pocket and the book tells us, ”He looked at the back of Lennie’s head, at the place where the spine and skull were joined.
” This reminds us of when Carlson shoots Candy’s dog to put it out of its misery and save it from more pain. Lennie thinks of the rabbits he’ll get to tend on their farm, then gets concerned that George is still mad at him. George says, ”No, Lennie. I ain’t mad. I never been mad, an’ I ain’t now. That’s a thing I want ya to know.
” George hears the other men coming towards them and, with his hand shaking, he brings the gun close to the back of Lennie’s head and fires a shot, killing Lennie. George throws the gun away from him and sits on the bank of the river while the other men come towards him.Curley sees Lennie’s body and seems to be enthusiastic about his death. Slim is the first to come over to George, and tells him, ”A guy got to sometimes.” George repeatedly looks at the hand that held the gun, visibly upset about what he had to do.
Carlson asks if Lennie had his gun and if George had to wrestle it from him to kill him, which George just affirms. Slim is the only one who seems to realize George’s distress and loneliness. He tells George that they should go get a drink, and George agrees. The book closes with Carlson saying to Curley, ”Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?”
As Of Mice and Men ends, we see Lennie hiding at the Salinas River. While he waits for George to show up, he has visions of his Aunt Clara and of a giant, anthropomorphic rabbit.
When George arrives, he tells Lennie about the difference between them and other men: that they have each other. He has Lennie turn around while he talks to him about the farm they will have. He shoots Lennie to save him from a worse fate by Curley’s hand, and the rest of the men show up, with Slim recognizing George’s loneliness and inviting him for a drink.