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Why does Slim treat George as he does at the end of the book?

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simonaoppedisano | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:41 AM via web

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Why does Slim treat George as he does at the end of the book?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:43 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that Steinbeck's construction of the ending in which Slim "stabilizes" George helps to bring out an element about the narrative and Steinbeck's own views about human connection.  On one hand, Slim provides George some faint hope of absolution.  Slim fully understands what George had to do.  It is evident that few others will demonstrate this.  Carlson's question as the last lines of the novella show this in that the typical workers won't understand what George did, why he had to do it, and the pain associated it.  In a world of surface perceptions and superficiality, Slim understands the emotional complexity and pain in which George undergoes.  At the same time, Slim treats George the way he does because Slim is seen throughout the narrative as a divine- like figure, a force of absolution and guidance in a world that lacks both.  It makes sense that Slim is the first one on the scene, the one that steadies George after he did what he did.  In this, Steinbeck both shows his love for Slim and also demonstrates how human beings, in a small way, can be gods and goddesses towards one another in times of need and in moments of desperation.  Through this characterization, Steinbeck brings out the idea that the force of human salvation can rest in a significant part in the hands of the human being.

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