On the ranch, the men live by a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality.
“Survival of the fittest” allows the strong to prevail over the weak. In John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice And Men”, the story centers around migrant workers of a ranch and men live by a “survival of the fittest” mentality on the ranch. The characters of the book seek to destroy those weaker than they are. One such depiction of strength over weakness is the killing of Candy’s ancient dog by Carlson. Though Candy has a close relationship with the dog, he is helpless as the dog is weak and essentially useless. Carlson cruelly kills the dog, illuminating the domination of the strong over the weak on the ranch. Candy internalizes his dog’s death as it symbolizes his own fate. He will soon outgrow his usefulness due to his old age and disability and be disposed of in the ranch. Another scene where the strong prevail over the weak is when George challenges Lennie and reprimands him of how much a burden he is immediately he realizes he is mentally disabled. In Crooks’ room, Curley’s wife threatens him because he is a black man who is deemed powerless in the ranch. Lennie accidentally kills his innocent puppy, several mice and Curley’s wife due to their vulnerable physical nature and Lennie’s inability to understand his own physical strength. In the end, despite his physical strength, Lennie is killed by George to strengthen his own chances of survival on the ranch. His emotional vulnerability makes him defenseless and disposable due to the universal law of survival of the fittest.