Curley and Slim in Of Mice and Men

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‘Of Mice and Men’, written by John Steinbeck, is a novel set in 1930s California and tells the story of two migrant workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, who move from ranch to ranch looking for work during the Great Depression. This novel is set while George and Lennie are in a small working ranch in the Salinas Valley of northern California, and over a period of 3 days we are introduced to a variety of characters that also live on the ranch. This essay will show how Steinbeck develops and presents two of the minor characters; Curley, the boss’ son, and Slim, the jerkline skinner. The introductory paragraphs of these two characters are interesting because they are highly contrasted. We are first introduced to Curley, “a thin, young…show more content…
Steinbeck says that Slim is the “prince of the ranch” and that he “moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty.” Steinbeck’s deliberate use of the word “prince” instantly shows us that Slim is the usurper of Curley’s position: Curley, as the son of the “king” of the ranch should, technically, be known as the “prince”, yet Slim has been accepted as this. Steinbeck uses the Stetson hat to show Slim’s status, as the hat symbolises a crown. We begin to get an understanding of why Curley is jealous of Slim; Slim is everything Curley wishes to be. Steinbeck always talks of Slim with dignity, majesty and respect, and manages to show how talented he is by using an ascending tri-colon to talk about Slims difficult job as a jerkline skinner. “He was capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders.” This heightens the impressiveness of Slims skilled work, and could be interpreted as Slim was a hard worker, who had achieved his authoritative position by being skilled at the hardest job on the farm. However, Steinbeck could also be saying that the “mules” represent the ranchers, and that Slim is able to control and lead all the ranchers using the littlest force possible, as opposed to Curleys harsh and more physical attempts at controlling them. Steinbeck also says “there was gravity in his [Slims] manner.” The use of the word “gravity” is interesting because it could be perceived as saying that his manner was serious and solemn, but on the
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