Steinbeck Family Outraged at Use of Lennie Small in Death Row Cases


After learning that Of Mice and Men was invoked in a Texas court to argue for the execution of the mentally impaired, John Steinbeck’s son Thomas spoke out in support of the (unsuccessful) effort to halt Tuesday’s execution of Marvin Wilson, a mentally retarded man with an I.Q. of 61.

“His work was certainly not meant to be scientific, and the character of Lennie was never intended to be used to diagnose a medical condition like intellectual disability. I find the whole premise to be insulting, outrageous, ridiculous and profoundly tragic. I am certain that if my father, John Steinbeck, were here, he would be deeply angry and ashamed to see his work used in this way.”

Lisa Dusenbery is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. More from this author →