Skip to Content

How did the guys in Weed respond to Lennie ripping the girl’s dress?

In John Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice and Men, a pivotal scene occurs when the character Lennie accidentally rips a young woman’s dress in the town of Weed, California. This incident leads to serious consequences for Lennie and his traveling companion George, as the men of Weed form a lynch mob seeking retribution.

The Incident in Weed

George and Lennie are migrant workers during the Great Depression, traveling together from job to job. Lennie is a large, strong man with a mild intellectual disability. George looks after Lennie, as he is prone to getting into trouble. When they arrive in Weed, they plan to earn money to fulfill their dream of owning their own farm someday.

One day in Weed, Lennie encounters a young woman in a pretty red dress. Enthralled by the soft fabric, Lennie reaches out to touch the dress, but due to his strength and unawareness of appropriate behavior, he holds on tightly. The woman panics and begins to scream, causing Lennie to grip tighter in confusion. This results in Lennie ripping the dress and scaring the young woman badly.

The Lynch Mob Forms

The men of Weed quickly hear of the incident and assume the worst of Lennie’s intentions toward the woman. At that time, assaults on women were often dealt with through vigilante mobs taking the law into their own hands. A number of the town’s men gather makeshift weapons and set out to find Lennie.

George realizes the danger they are in and hurriedly takes Lennie out of town and into the woods to hide. In the woods, George confiscates Lennie’s blanket and makes him bury it, explaining he’ll need to be inconspicuous when they have to flee the lynch mob. The men pursue them into the woods, intent on capturing Lennie.

George and Lennie Escape

Luckily, George is clever and knows the area well enough to evade the mob in the dark woods. He gets himself and Lennie to the train station safely, where they leap onto a freight train heading south. The mob loses their trail and gives up the chase.

This incident in Weed sets George and Lennie fleeing south, eventually leading them to the ranch where the main events of the novel take place. It provides key backstory and motivation for George to watch over Lennie so closely, as he knows Lennie could easily get into serious trouble again through no malicious intent. The reaction of the Weed mob shows the prevalent attitudes at the time toward taking justice into one’s own hands.

Key Takeaways

Here are some key points about how the men in Weed responded when Lennie accidentally ripped the girl’s dress:

  • The men assumed Lennie had malicious intent toward the woman and formed a lynch mob.
  • Vigilante mobs taking the law into their own hands was a common occurrence at the time.
  • George fled with Lennie to save him from the mob’s wrath, hiding in the woods.
  • After evading the mob, George and Lennie jumped a freight train out of Weed to escape.
  • The incident made George very wary of trouble Lennie could unintentionally cause.

The Men’s Assumptions About Lennie

The men in Weed made major assumptions about Lennie’s motivations when they formed the lynch mob. Important points about their assumptions include:

Assumption Description
Lennie assaulted the woman They assumed Lennie intentionally grabbed and ripped her dress, rather than doing so unintentionally.
Lennie was fully aware of his actions The men did not consider Lennie may have limited understanding of appropriate behavior.
Lennie deserved vigilante retribution They felt justified taking the law into their own hands and doling out punishment.

These assumptions led the men to act rashly and hastily in forming a lynch mob to hunt Lennie down without full information about him or the situation.

George’s Protective Response

In contrast to the men of Weed’s assumptions, George understood Lennie and his motivations. His protective response included:

  • Realizing the danger the mob posed to Lennie.
  • Fleeing to safety in the woods to evade the mob.
  • Comforting Lennie who was scared and confused.
  • Sternly instructing Lennie to follow his lead for safety.
  • Getting themselves safely out of Weed via freight train.

George’s actions were driven by care for Lennie and knowledge of his childlike nature. This allowed him to save them from potential harm by acting quickly and decisively.


The men of Weed responded hastily and violently when Lennie accidentally ripped the young woman’s dress. Assuming the worst of Lennie, they formed a mob intent on vigilante justice. In contrast, George understood the situation fully and took action to protect Lennie, allowing them to escape safely. The incident shows the themes of assumption, protection, and retribution that run throughout Of Mice and Men.