Of Mice and Men

10 October 2016

The American Dream is a dream of a land in which life should be better, richer, and fuller and with opportunity for each. It is a dream of social order in which each man and woman should be able to achieve the fullest rank of which they are capable of, and be recognized for what they are, regardless of the circumstances of birth or position. Of Mice and Men takes place in the 1930’s of America during the Great Depression. The American dream is a significant motif in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men both Lennie and George stay optimistic about achieving the dream, ‘We’d have plenty of rabbits. George says this to Lennie to keep his spirits up for the future. George says ‘We’d’ which is future tense and the future tense gives him the motivation to attain the dream. . Nevertheless, the dream is never fulfilled, and the characters who have counted on it are the ones who are the most devastated. Slim’s comfort at the end “You hadda George”, indicates the sad truth that one has to surrender one’s dreams in order to survive. The characters with the highest status and power don’t seem to rely on the American dream as much as the characters with a lower status.

From the descriptions of the characters, we see from the start who has a higher status and who would be valued more on the ranch. When slim is first mentioned to George and Lennie Candy talks very highly of him. “Hell of a nice fella. Slim don’t need to wear no high-heeled boots on a grain team” This being said about Slim from someone who works under him, shows that Slim is respected. He doesn’t have to wear “high-heeled boots” in order to get authority. He already has it, and the respect of the men. The second physical description of Slim is the first time George and Lennie see him. Tall man stood in the doorway. He held a crushed Stetson hat under his arm while he combed his long, black, damp hair straight back. . . .When he had finished combing his hair he moved into the room, and he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch’ His height is mentioned which can be a representation of his status on the ranch. ‘He combed his long, black, damp hair straight back’ this shows that he is well groomed and cares about his outer appearance. This also gives the reader a sense of what he looks like.

Of Mice and Men Essay Example

Steinbeck says ‘he moved with a majesty…’ this shows that he moves with the experience of a skilled worker. Slim doesn’t demand respect but is given it this is different in another one of the high ranking character. Curley, the boss’ son, is an evil character in Steinbeck’s world. Even Lennie feels the sense of menace when Curley first comes into the bunkhouse. ‘Like the boss he wore high-heeled boots’ this gives Curley more power because since he is the boss’ son he can’t be fired. Curley always has to pick on people who seem weaker than him so he can have the upper-hand.

He is very wary of people and will quickly pick out the weakest. When approaching Lennie ‘Curley stepped gingerly close to him. ’ Curley is cautious but seems to miss out on important details because of his obsession with fighting. Steinbeck shows the power and status of some of the characters by what other characters think about them. Candy is the first to inform us of some of the members on the ranch, he warns George and Lennie about Curley. Candy says ‘He’s done quite a bit in the ring. ’ Candy says this as a warning about Curley’s potential violence.

Steinbeck may have been telling the reader from the start that Curley was going to be looking for a fight. Obviously Candy was trying to advise them to stay away from Curley perhaps from past experiences. Curley never wants to ‘play fair’ ‘Curley don’t take chances, he always wins’ he doesn’t play by the rules and will go to whatever lengths to get what he wants. He believes that because he is the boss’ son he is untouchable. When speaking to George and Lennie he addresses Lennie but Lennie was told not to speak by George and George steps in to answer for him.

Curley then says ‘he’s got to talk when he’s spoke to. ’ Curley sees this as a sign of disrespect and he believes because of the power he has he can demand that kind of respect he thinks he deserves. Curley’s own wife says he’s ‘not a nice fella. ’ This shows that there is probably own 1 person on the ranch that likes him and that is the boss. Slim is a man who is gifted with charm and a god-like persona. Candy talks about him with great admiration ‘Slim’s a jerkline skinner. Hell of a nice fella’ His fellow workers seem to have a good relationship with him and seem to idolise him.

The physical and personality characteristics of Slim epitomize an ideal leader. However Slim is very mysterious he is talked about with so much worship but we never really get to know him. ‘No one knows what Slim can do’ this means like the god-like figure he is portrayed to be nobody knows where his powers reach and what he is capable of. Curley and Slim are 2 important characters who are very different. Slim has an acquired status. He has gained his power by how he acts and the hard work he does. The other works on the ranch look up to him.

They see him as their leader. When Candy informs George and Lennie about him he talks about the fact that Slim doesn’t ‘need’ or want to wear expensive or trendy clothes to show people how remarkable he is. Slim works hard and that is what separates him from the boss, who doesn’t work and wears the expensive items. In the sad situation of Candy’s dog having to be shot by Carlson, Slim takes charge. Even though Carlson was the one who was adamant about the idea he still allowed Slim to lead the operation.

Steinbeck highlights the point by saying ‘Carlson stepped back and let Slim precede him’ this shows the relationship between Slim and Carlson. Carlson knows hi place on the ranch. All of this goes back to the God-like description of Slim and he lived up to his expectations. Slim has a lot of power and influences the ranch workers in a big way but he sets good examples as a leader. Even Curley doesn’t want to get on Slim’s bad side ‘Well I didn’t mean nothing, Slim. I just ast you’ It seems like Curley doesn’t want Slim to be angry at him and seems to beg for forgiveness.

Curley is the opposite of Slim in a lot of ways. Curley didn’t earn his power he was given his power because he is the bosses son. Curley wears one work glove which is filled with Vaseline. Steinbeck uses the work glove to suggest that Curley may be in 2 worlds. He is out all day like the work men but not necessarily doing any work. He is mostly out chasing his wife. He has created a reputation for himself, spreading like secret about the ‘Glove fulla Vaseline’ which shows disrespect for his by believing he can do what he wants with her and then gossip about It later.

What Candy has told George about Curley has set him up for very low expectations. It is said ‘Curley is cockier’n ever since he got married. ’ This shows that he thinks he is better than everyone just because he has a woman. He see’s woman as objects like trophies to be won and shown off. He is a very egotistical and aggressive man. Lennie laughs (unintentionally) when Curley is angry and Curley instantly has to get aggressive. He is worried about his reputation being harmed by Lennie laughing at him ‘No son-of a bitch is gonna laugh at me’ so he resorted to violence as to not harm his ego.

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