Reading Of Mice and Men - Is Lennie Autistic?

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ddrapayo
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28 Mar 2009, 3:48 pm

I am reading Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in English, and I really think Lennie's autistic. Here's why:
1. George (Lennie companion throughout the novel) says Lennie will do whatever he (George) tells him to. He gives an example of when he told him (George told Lennie) to jump into the river, and Lennie did and nearly drowned. Automatic obedience no matter what is a trait of those who are autistic, if I am not mistaken.
2. Lennie seems to have sensory issues. From what happened in Weed (when he wants to "feel the girl's dress", then doesn't let go; the girl screams, Lennie gets scared and holds tighter, and the girl thinks he's raping her) to the end of the novel with Curley's Wife, he seems to like feeling things. Lennie even says this himself at several points in the novel.
3. Also, as mentioned above, Lennie seems to have several sensory overload episodes. First, the girl in Weed incident mentioned above. The same thing happens with Curley's Wife at the end.
4. Lennie also seems to have his own obsession, namely the rabbits at the farm he and George say they will eventually own. Lennie always mentions about how he is going to tend the rabbits and how he and George will "live off da fatta the land". (Live off the fat of the land).

Keep in mind that this book was written well before autism was discovered. However, it is clear to me that Lennie is autistic. Wikipedia, however, says he is "mildly retarded", which, according to the psychological standards at the time the novel was written, is how he would have been classified were he real and alive then. What are your thoughts?



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28 Mar 2009, 3:53 pm

I've read the book I don't think he is, he's just a bit slow.
Also on the film Lennie is portrayed as being retarded.
I can see where you're coming from though.


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28 Mar 2009, 3:58 pm

My dad's renting the DVD of this for next weekend...I guess I'll comment then.


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ddrapayo
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28 Mar 2009, 4:03 pm

gina-ghettoprincess wrote:
My dad's renting the DVD of this for next weekend...I guess I'll comment then.

As mentioned above, I believe the movie's quite different than the book.



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28 Mar 2009, 4:09 pm

ddrapayo wrote:
gina-ghettoprincess wrote:
My dad's renting the DVD of this for next weekend...I guess I'll comment then.

As mentioned above, I believe the movie's quite different than the book.


Hmm...I guess I'll see if they have it in the school library, then.


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kaitlyn_loves_music
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28 Mar 2009, 5:08 pm

i think he is mentally retarded he seems worse than an autistic.



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28 Mar 2009, 5:44 pm

I had to read this book at high school for English literature and although it was a very long time ago (22+ years), I don't remember us discussing or thinking that he was autistic, more that he was 'retarded' as we would have said back then, learning disabilities or difficulties or whatever the PC term is today.



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28 Mar 2009, 6:51 pm

kaitlyn_loves_music wrote:
i think he is mentally retarded he seems worse than an autistic.


interesting comparison. why would something be better or worse of autism or mental retardation?

and why would one be better or worse than the other?

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28 Mar 2009, 6:59 pm

I have studied psychology and I definitely don't see Lennie as being Autistic. As someone said already he is likely mentally retarded. His fascination for hearing about the rabbits is child-like. He seems to have obsessions that compel him to do things, but his behaviour is more like an inquisitive child. I think he has the mind of a child in a hulking great and athletic body - a body so developed to the point of obviously 'turning on' Curley's wife who tries to seduce him. In contrast Autistic people can have incredible brains in clumsy bodies they have little control over.



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29 Mar 2009, 1:37 am

The description of Lenny could very well match LFA. Autism fairly often has comorbid mental retardation, so there's no reason why Lennie couldn't be both autistic and mildly mentally retarded. That said, he's a fictional character from before autism was known, so no, he is not autistic. He doesn't exist.

ddrapayo wrote:
gina-ghettoprincess wrote:
My dad's renting the DVD of this for next weekend...I guess I'll comment then.

As mentioned above, I believe the movie's quite different than the book.

Not too horribly different, from what I remember. The film version took fewer liberties than is usual.


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29 Mar 2009, 2:06 am

Orwell wrote:
The description of Lenny could very well match LFA. Autism fairly often has comorbid mental retardation, so there's no reason why Lennie couldn't be both autistic and mildly mentally retarded. That said, he's a fictional character from before autism was known, so no, he is not autistic. He doesn't exist.

ddrapayo wrote:
gina-ghettoprincess wrote:
My dad's renting the DVD of this for next weekend...I guess I'll comment then.

As mentioned above, I believe the movie's quite different than the book.

Not too horribly different, from what I remember. The film version took fewer liberties than is usual.


we did the play in High School, I saw Steinbeck's great work as a play, and remember distinctly Lennie was hallucinating giant rabbits and his Aunt Clara when George decided to shoot Lennie. Lots of slots in the psychological pigeonholes you could slip Lennie into, but then, did Steinbeck actually know neurological differences from mental illnesses from a hole in the ground?

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29 Mar 2009, 10:55 am

sinsboldly wrote:
did Steinbeck actually know neurological differences from mental illnesses from a hole in the ground?

Did anyone at that time?


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29 Mar 2009, 12:25 pm

Orwell wrote:
sinsboldly wrote:
did Steinbeck actually know neurological differences from mental illnesses from a hole in the ground?

Did anyone at that time?


in the 1960's I was placed in an archaic mental institution, in what they called an 'experimental ward' for people they really didn't know what to do with. There, across the campus was the old mansion that was the original State Hospitial with bars and attics and seemingly dusky cloud of old illness and frustation perpeutally hanging over it. The electroshock table and hydro therapy tubs were in the cellar (shudder) and I was dispatched to learn filing in the converted office space they had in the ground and second floors. I would slip out and run up the back stairs and see and feel where thousands of people had passed through since it was built in 1856, leaving their psychic imprints on the space, permeated into the walls.

No, nobody did. As bad as it is now, it is nothing close to those of us that went before.

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29 Mar 2009, 12:26 pm

Orwell wrote:
sinsboldly wrote:
did Steinbeck actually know neurological differences from mental illnesses from a hole in the ground?

Did anyone at that time?


in the 1960's I was placed in an archaic mental institution, in what they called an 'experimental ward' for people they really didn't know what to do with. There, across the campus was the old mansion that was the original State Hospital with bars and attics and seemingly dusky cloud of old illness and frustration perpetually hanging over it. The electroshock table and hydro therapy tubs were in the cellar (shudder) and I was dispatched to learn filing in the converted office space they had in the ground and second floors. I would slip out and run up the back stairs and see and feel where thousands of people had passed through since it was built in 1856, leaving their psychic imprints on the space, permeated into the walls.

No, nobody did. As bad as it is now, it is nothing close to those of us that went before.

Merle


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29 Mar 2009, 12:57 pm

From what I gathered in school, I heard it was mental retardation but who knows.

Back then one really knew about all these things people get diagnosed with now. My professor said you were assumed retarded for a lot of reasons.

Ironically, I wasn't able to grasp words and had delayment in speech. To communicate, the only thing I knew to do was make up words that made sense to me or drawing it. I had many kids in class calling me names like retard, slow, mute, and so on. As if I didn't understand what was being implyed to me. Took a while for me to even want to talk much less to people like that.


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