Discuss the ways in which characters communicate with one another in the story.

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

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The communication that exists between human beings is of critical importance to the characters and the emotional dynamic of Steinbeck's work.  For example, it is critically important that Lennie and George communicate through dreams and hopes for the future.  This represents a bulwark of their relationship.  It is not by accident that the opening and closing of their friendship concerns dreams and hopes for the future, in contrast to the depressing and bleak state of their present.  The manner in which George and Slim communicate is one of penitent and priest.  At the start of Chapter 3, Steinbeck uses this imagery to explore the relationship between them in terms of how George divulges past events to him.  Slim is that voice of authority, the semblance of structure in a world that lacks it.  This is essential at the end, when Slim leads George and helps him cope with what he had done.  There is this tone of confession that is evident in the manner in which Crooks and Curley's wife both speak with Lennie.  It is almost as if Lennie is that audience that allows both of them to confess or articulate their pain and their suffering, something that both of them keep to themselves.  Finally, the manner in which Curley's wife communicates with most others is through her sexuality and through power, as seen through her interactions with the other farmhands.  The element of power and control is most evident at the end of Chapter 4, where she spits venom at both Candy and Crooks.

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