Steinbeck On Execution


Lennie Small is an iconic literary character -- a well-intentioned, mentally disabled giant of a man. He and his long-suffering friend George Milton are the two central characters in John Steinbeck's 1937 heartbreaking novella, "Of Mice and Men" -- in which the combination of Lennie's strength and mental disabilities get him into serious trouble. Now, in Texas, Lennie Small -- Steinbeck's fictional character -- is being used as a measure of a person's mental fitness to face the death penalty. On Tuesday, Marvin Wilson -- whose IQ was measured at 61-- was denied a stay of execution. It was a decision based, in part, on how Mr. Wilson's intellect compared to Lennie's. Only hours later, Mr. Wilson was executed.  John Steinbeck's son, Thomas, is speaking out. He's an author and journalist himself -- and he's outraged at the state of Texas, and what he calls the misappropriation of his father's writing. We reached Thomas Steinbeck at his writing studio in Santa Barbara, California.
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