What is the major conflict in chapter 2

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In chapter 2 of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men we find George and Lennie at the bunkhouse of the farm, having just met Candy, who guides them through the place.

The first conflict we encounter in this chapter occurs shortly after George and Lennie begin to settle in after the boss comes in to meet them and asks them why they were delayed in showing up.

However, it is the boss's son, Curley, who starts the real trouble upon meeting the men, especially Lennie. Curley is rash, abrupt, and obviously has an issue with Lennie's big, corpulent physique that makes him feel inferior. Immediately, Curley wants to assert his dominance and begins to talk disrespecftfully to the men. Curley sees in Lennie a potential victim whom he can bully around. In George, Curley sees another man with whom he can antagonize and always come up with the upper hand.

Aside from Curley's nasty and rude personality, there is the issue of his wife, who also makes her first entrance in Chapter 2.

Although she just shows up to supposedly ask the whereabouts of her husband, it is obvious that the woman is trouble by the way that she over-does her image, and by the sensuality that she displays to get the men's attention. Lennie becomes immediately smitten by her, and George quickly admonishes and warns him about it.

Therefore, the main conflict is meeting Curley and his wife, who are just as dysfunctional as the field hands are poor. Curley, his attitude towards Lennie, Lennie's lack of mental capacity, and the sneaky nature of Curley's wife with Lennie make for a recipe for chaos.



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