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Section 2

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Section 2

Section 2

Section 2

Though the boss seems fair-minded, treating his men to whiskey at Christmas and giving Lennie and George the benefit of the doubt, he is an unimportant character. Instead, his son Curley embodies authority on the ranch. In the book’s vision of the world, Curley represents the vicious and belligerent way in which social power tends to manifest itself. Given Curley’s temperament, he serves as a natural foil—a character whose emotions or actions contrast with those of other characters—for both the gentle Lennie and the self-assured Slim. Whereas Curley is plagued by self-doubts that cause him to explode violently, Slim possesses a quiet competence that earns him the respect of everyone on the ranch. Like Curley, Slim stands as an authority figure. The men on the ranch look to him for advice, and, later, even Curley will deliver an uncharacteristic apology after wrongly accusing Slim of fooling around with his wife. Slim’s authority comes from his self-possession; he needs neither the approval nor the failure of others to confirm his stature. Curley’s strength, on the other hand, depends upon his ability to dominate and defeat those weaker than him.

George and Lennie immediately feel the threat that Curley’s presence poses. To avoid getting into trouble with Curley, they promise to stick even closer to each other than usual. Their friendship is rare and impressive. Slim, who wonders why more men don’t travel around together and theorizes that maybe it’s because everyone is scared of everyone else, appreciates the closeness of their friendship. In the novella as a whole, Steinbeck celebrates and romanticizes the bonds between men. The men in Of Mice and Men dominate the ranch and long, more than anything else, to live peaceful, untroubled lives in the company of other men. The only female character who has an active role in the book is Curley’s wife, who, significantly, Steinbeck never names, and identifies only in reference to her husband. Other female characters are mentioned in passing, but with the exception of the maternal Aunt Clara, who cared for Lennie before her death, they are invariably prostitutes or troublemakers.

Even with all of its concern for treating with dignity the lives of the socially disempowered, Of Mice and Men derogatorily assigns women only two lowly functions: caretakers of men, and sex objects. The novel altogether dismisses women from its vision of paradise, regardless of their place in the real world. Female sexuality is described as a trap laid to ensnare and ruin men. George and Lennie imagine themselves alone, without wives or women to complicate their vision of tending the land and raising rabbits. Much like a traditional, conservative Christian interpretation of the myth of man’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the novella presents women as a temptation leading to man’s fall from perfection.

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SECTION 2 QUIZ

When George tries not to let Lennie talk to the boss, why is the boss suspicious?
He worries that George might be taking advantage of Lennie.
Because Lennie seems violent and crazy
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A good read, but sad

by Alfred_F_Jones, February 02, 2013

We read the novel for my 9th grade English class, and I'm supposed to be writing and essay about it right now, but oh well. It was an amazing book, though many of my classmates disliked it. The characters were impressive and I really liked old Candy. It was good for historical reference and offered a look at the depression.

The shot book got me attached to the characters, and I almost cried at the end, but I was in class.

Overall I'd give it an 9 out of 10

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Of Mice and Men Plot Summary

by giannamarie11, February 05, 2013

Of Mice and Men is a fantastic novel that shows how hard it was in the times of the Great Depression. The difference between Lennie and George compared to the migrant workers is that they had each other. In the novel, it shows how George takes care of Lennie who has a mental disability. Most of the migrant workers wanted to achieve the success of the American Dream that was different for every American. Lennie and George too wanted to the euphoria of achieving their American Dream. Lennie and George’s dream was to own a ranch and live off ... Read more

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237 out of 289 people found this helpful

Minor Characters?

by DanyStormborn, August 22, 2013

I read the book and really enjoyed it, but now I have to write the essay. I have to write about a minor character that is very important to the story, the only problem is, I can't see to figure out which characters would be considered 'minor.' I was thinking about using Slim, but please let me know if you can think of a better suggestion! Thanks

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4 out of 16 people found this helpful

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Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)

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