1) What is the significance of the rabbit appearing at the end of the book?
The rabbit represents Lennie’s conscience, his sense of right and wrong. It is appropriate that it appears as a rabbit, as Lennie is most interested in rabbits. The words spoken by the rabbit are the words of Lennie’s own guilt speaking to him.
2) Why did George kill Lennie and was he justified in doing that?
It was necessary for George to kill Lennie to prevent Curley inflicting a death of drawn-out suffering upon him. George had seen the pain caused to Candy when he did not take responsibility for killing his own best friend (his dog) and made sure he did not face the same inner torment.
3) Explain what happens to the dream at the end of the novel for both Lennie and George.
Lennie dies visualizing the dream, and thus his life ended in some kind of happiness. For George to do this was an act of kindness, a way of giving his friend a final gift. However, for George, his dream is over. Even worse, he must now travel, work and live alone. He has not only lost his dream: he has lost his friend.
4) In what way does Slim show understanding for George’s decision? Why does Carlson ask the last question?
Slim explains to George that he had no choice (in the circumstances) but to kill Lennie. He says, “You hadda”.
Carlson does no understand the emotional complexity of the situation. He is a more basic human being, formed by years of living alone, so when George is devastated by the death of Lennie, Carlson wonders “What the hell is eatin’ those guys?”