Describe the character of Slim in Of Mice and Men.
Slim, the jerkline skinner, is tall and strong, yet gentle in his movements and speech, and he is very good at his job. However, even his impressive physical qualities are not his most important attributes.
His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought. (chapter 2)
In this introductory description Slim is presented as a man of superior understanding and wisdom. He looks deeply into any situation or problem; he is able to see beyond the immediate and the obvious, and he is an excellent judge of character.
The other men, whether consciously or unconsciously, all look up to Slim. They turn to him for advice and support. George, although just newly arrived, confides everything to him, and even the belligerent Curley never dares to go against his wishes.
Most importantly, it is Slim that helps to decide the conclusion of the story. He counsels George to deal with the fugitive Lennie himself rather than allowing anyone else to hunt him down, or institutionalise him. Slim realises that it is best if George kills Lennie, as he will do it out of compassion, and Lennie will die happy this way.
Slim is the most respected and admired man on the ranch. All the men look up to him as a source of wisdom and honest advice. Even Curley listens to him, and that's not something he does very often to anyone else. Slim is the voice of reason, someone whose moral authority gives him great influence over events at the ranch.
For instance, after Lennie smashes Curley's hand, Curley, as we would expect, wants to fire both Lennie and George. But Slim manages to persuade Curley not to. He seems to have the uncanny ability to know what makes people tick and how best to coax them into doing the right thing. This extraordinary gift enables Slim to prevent violence from getting out of hand on a number of occasions throughout the book.
Slim's most notable feature is his deep understanding of George. He has a unique insight into the dynamics of his relationship with Lennie. That's why he feels that George was totally justified in killing Lennie, as the only alternative would've been death by electric chair. Once again, Slim shows the uncommon ability to take a step back and gain a valuable moral perspective on things, a perspective shared by no one else at the ranch.
The book describes Slim as: a tall man, with a crushed Stetson hat; he had long, dark hair that he kept combed straight back. "...he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsman. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving, ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders. He was capable of killing a fly on the wheeler's butt with a bullwhip without touching the mule. There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke. His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love. This was Slim, the jerkline skinner. His hatchet face was ageless. He might have been thirty-five or fifty. His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought. His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer."