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Slim, the “jerkline skinner,” is a figure of natural authority. He commands the respect of the other men through his professional skill and his strength of character, “a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke.” Slim is contrasted with Curley, who has authority over the other workers due to his status as the boss’s son but struggles to earn their respect. For instance, while Curley wears “high-heeled boots” to make up for his short stature and remind the workers of his wealth and status, Candy explains pointedly that Slim “don’t need to wear no high-heeled boots on a grain team.” Unlike aggressive and cruel Curley, Slim is a source of moral authority in the novella. He correctly sees that Lennie “ain’t mean,” and later the reader learns that he is one of the only men to ignore the racist prohibition against entering Crooks’s room. Slim is also the only one to rightly understand that George kills Lennie out of mercy, and comforts George in his resulting misery. The contrast between Slim and Curley serves to suggest that the economic power of Curley and his father is artificial, a violation of the natural order in which Slim ought to rank highest.
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