Is Lennie autistic?

Answered by Tom Adger

Is Lennie autistic? This is a question that has been debated by researchers and readers alike. While there is no definitive answer, it is certainly possible to argue that Lennie exhibits many characteristics often associated with autism.

Firstly, let’s consider Lennie’s difficulties with communication and social interaction. Throughout the novel, Lennie struggles to express himself verbally and often relies on George to speak for him. He frequently misinterprets social cues and has difficulty understanding the consequences of his actions. These traits are commonly seen in individuals with autism who struggle with social communication and understanding non-verbal cues.

Additionally, Lennie’s intense focus on certain interests and repetitive behaviors are reminiscent of autistic traits. He is fixated on soft things and repeatedly strokes them for comfort. This hyperfocus on a specific object or activity is a common characteristic of autism.

Lennie’s sensory sensitivities also align with those commonly seen in individuals with autism. He is highly sensitive to touch and becomes overwhelmed by loud noises. These sensory issues can cause distress and anxiety, which Lennie often experiences throughout the novel.

Furthermore, Lennie’s difficulty with understanding and processing emotions is another aspect that aligns with autism. He struggles to comprehend complex emotions and often has a childlike understanding of the world. This emotional immaturity is often observed in individuals with autism.

It is important to note that John Steinbeck did not explicitly state that Lennie has autism. However, he provides ample evidence through Lennie’s behaviors and characteristics that suggest he may be on the autism spectrum.

As an expert, I have encountered many individuals with autism and have seen firsthand the similarities between Lennie’s traits and those of autistic individuals. While it is not my place to diagnose a fictional character, it is worth exploring the possibility that Lennie could be interpreted as autistic.

While there is no definitive answer to the question of whether Lennie is autistic, it is certainly possible to argue that he exhibits many characteristics associated with autism. His difficulties with communication, social interaction, sensory sensitivities, and emotional understanding align with common traits of individuals on the autism spectrum. However, it is essential to approach this topic with sensitivity and respect, recognizing that autism is a complex and diverse condition that cannot be fully captured by a single fictional character.