Explore the ways in which Steinbeck makes the following conversation revealing.
Lennie crawled slowly and cautiously around the fire until he was close to George. He sat back on his heels. George turned the bean cans so that another side faced the fire. He pretended to be unaware of Lennie so close beside him. “George,” very softly. No answer. “George!" “Whatta you want?” “I was only foolin’, George. I don’t want no ketchup. I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me.” “If it was here, you could have some.” “But I wouldn’t eat none, George. I’d leave it all for you. You could cover your beans with it and I wouldn’t touch none of it.” George still stared morosely at the fire. “When I think of the swell time I could have without you, I go nuts. I never get no peace.” Lennie still knelt. He looked off into the darkness across the river. “George, you want I should go away and leave you alone?” “Where the hell could you go?” “Well, I could. I could go off in the hills there. Some place I’d find a cave.” “Yeah? How’d you eat? You ain’t got sense enough to find nothing to eat.” “I’d find things, George. I don’t need no nice food with ketchup. I’d lay out in the sun and nobody’d hurt me. An’ if I foun’ a mouse, I could keep it. Nobody’d take it away from me.” George looked quickly and searchingly at him.
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While the third person point of view is detached, Steinbeck is able to develop his characterizations through dialogue that reveals much of the characters. In such revelation, the characters become more real and more perceptible to the reader. The dialogue that George and Lennie share from the first chapter is one such instance. It helps to bring out the basic templates of both men. The dialogue reveals Lennie to be of almost a child- like innocence in his love of animals and desire to be loved. It also reveals how George is more of a care-taker of Lennie. Steinbeck is able to bring out the frustration that a person in George's situation would feel. There is a vulnerability that both men feel in this condition, something also revealed in the conversation. Lennie's need to be loved is one that he would be willing to "hide" in a cave, while George is shown to be one that needs, at a level that perhaps could not be openly admitted, Lennie. Both men are shown to be there for one another and it becomes clear that no one else is there for them. It is through the dialogue that Steinbeck is able to advance the theme of solidarity and friendship that dominates the work. This dialogue helps to reveal both the theme and the subtleties of characterization that will define the work's effectiveness.
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