Mercy Killing in Million Dollar Baby and of Mice and Men

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Mercy killing is a theme in both Haggis' film, Million Dollar Baby, and Stienbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men. In the film, Frankie follows through with Maggie's request to end her life as a result of her accident. In the novel, George decides that his friend, Lennie, is better off dead. Of the two stories, George seems to have the most difficult dilemma to overcome in making the decision to end his friend's life.

In the Million Dollar Baby, Frankie is boxing trainer. The most important thing that he teaches his boxers is the same rule that he lives his own life by: protect yourself. Frankie has been haunted by the mistakes of his past, especially a painful breakup with his daughter. He avoids getting attached to anyone and goes to Mass daily, looking for forgiveness that seems to avoid him. He becomes friends with Maggie, an underdog amateur boxer, who reaches out to Frankie for help in becoming a professional. 'Problem is, this the only thing I ever felt good doing. If I'm too hold for this then I got nothing. That enough truth to suit you?' The two of them forge a bond based on a shared dream of overcoming negative circumstances. Frankie discovers a path of redemption through Maggie and helps her fulfill her dream of becoming a prized fighter.

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In Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie become close friends. Lennie's companionship helps George look ahead to a bright future. 'Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family… They ain't got nothing to look ahead to. With us, it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.' Lennie's mental deficiencies often frustrate George. 'You get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out...You crazy son-of-a-bitch. You keep me in hot water all the time.' But as his protector, George finds meaning and purpose to make a better life for the two of them. He dreams of owning a farm someday with a '... little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some' live off the fatta the lan'.' And Lennie's enthusiasm of looking after the animals fuels George to keep the dream alive.

Frankie and George have a difficult dilemma to overcome in making the decision to end the life of their friend. Frankie trained Maggie to be a prized fighter. As she dominates in her title fight her opponent throws an illegal sucker punch, breaking the neck of Maggie as she lands on a corner stool. Frankie eventually follows through with Maggie's wish to end her life of suffering as a quadriplegic. He administers a fatal injection of adrenaline. In the novel, George comes to theaid of panicked Lennie, who has accidentally killed the boss' son's wife. George knows its a matter of time before the Lennie experiences the wrath of the son. He tells Lennie to remember their dream. 'We gonna get a little place...An we'll have maybe a pig an' chickens...Gonna do it' me. Ever'body gonna be nice to you. Ain't gonna be no more trouble...' He quietly raises a gun behind Lennie's head and pulls the trigger.

Frankie and George face a different dilemma to overcome in making the decision to end the life of their friend. Through the training of Maggie to become a prized fighter, Frankie finds healing with his past. Before administering the fatal injection he tells Maggie the meaning of a nickname he gave her, 'my darling, and my blood.' As he trained Maggie he has found a way to reconcile with the pain he caused his own daughter. He comments at the of the film, 'Now I can die and go to heaven.' George, on the other hand, faces a more difficult dilemma to overcome. George loved Lennie like a brother. 'I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want... Get a gallon of whiskey, or set in a pool room... Jus' foolin', Lennie. Cause I want you to stay with me.' His love for Lennie makes it that much more difficult to end his life. Without his friend he is now all alone, no one to motivate him to pursue their dream of owning a farm. But as a true friend he has no choice. He is committed to protecting his friend to the very end. And in some way, as he tells Lennie to look across the river to their farm, he sends Lennie ahead of him to realize their dream.

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