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How is the theme 'Power' presented by Steinbeck in the novel?What are the different...

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oldspice999 | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted March 11, 2012 at 12:21 AM via web

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How is the theme 'Power' presented by Steinbeck in the novel?

What are the different types of power, any important quotes to support this, and how is the context involved?

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 11, 2012 at 12:44 AM (Answer #1)

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The themes of power and powerlessness are presented in several ways in Of Mice and Men.

Financial, moral, social and phsysical power are each presented as being different types of power.

Financial: The owner of the ranch has the power to hire and fire workers. George and Lennie dream of a day when they will have that power and when they will have the power to choose when and how much they work in a day. In their position in the book, the only power they have now in this regard is to arrive late at the ranch to get out of a half-day's work.

Moral: Slim is a good example of how social position can be a result of moral power. Slim is listened to and respected in ways that Candy is not. These two characters are presented as opposites in regards to moral power. No one tells Slim what to do. Candy, on the other hand, lets his only friend, his dog, be killed because Carlson wanted the dog to be killed. George holds a moral power in the book as well as he both coddles and manipulates Lennie into behaving appropriately. George has the power to tell Lennie what to do as we see at various points.

Social: Curley's wife at one point in the book tells Crooks, "You know what I can do to you." She is expressing here the power of her position as a white woman speaking to a dark skinned man. The idea of the power and powerlessness of social position is well developed in Of Mice and Men and is intertwined with the other modes of power discussed here.

Physical: Lennie and Curley represent opposites in phsyical power. Lennie is incredibly strong and Curley is physically small and not powerful.

No amount of physical or moral power can equal the financial power of the Boss, in the end, but there is an open question as to which mode of power is the most important to the lives of the characters - moral power like Slim's or financial power like the Boss's.

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