Discuss the significance of when George and Slim walk off at the end of the novel.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The exchange between George and Slim is significant for a couple of reasons.  The first would be that it achieves the "priest- pentient" dynamic that Steinbeck has sought to create throughout the novel.  Steinbeck possesses an amazing amount of respect for Slim.  In Chapter 3, he describes the conversation between him and George with a tone of "confession," indicating that Slim is a transcendent figure within a world of contingency and irony.  For Slim to tell George that he "hadda do it" and that George "had no choice," is a small form of absolution.  When Slim steadies George by the elbow, it is a moment where someone is actually looking out for George.  It is a moment where George has experienced and endured an extreme amount of pain and suffering, to be buoyed for a moment by someone steadying him and ensuring that what he did was something that needed to be done.  At the same time, it enables the reader to fully understand the toll that had been inflicted on George through the reflection of Slim's guidance.  The final significance is that the reality of emotional support that Slim lends to George is something not understood by the majority of the men in the lynch mob, reflecting once again how solidarity and care for another is generally misunderstood in a setting of intense individualism.


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