Explain the significance of a dialogue in Of Mice and Men.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my mind, one of the best dialogues that emerges in the novel would be the first discussion between Slim and George.  The discussion that centers on how George and Lennie travel together is one of the most poignant in the work:

Slim is bigger than life, the 'prince of the ranch' whose 'authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject.' Gentle and kind, he expresses no surprise that George and Lennie travel together. Instead Slim muses over why more men don’t. He concludes, 'Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

This is a significant moment because it addresses one of the fundamental issues of the novel.  The struggle for community and permanence in a setting that is predicated upon a transitory nature and a sense of impermanence is vitally important to the development of the novel and the themes within it.  When Slim, a voice of authority, comments on both how there needs to be a greater need for men to "travel together" and almost a criticism for those that don't out of fear, it is a direct statement being made about the characters in the text, the individuals outside of it in history, and even the reader who is reading it.  Slim's words at George's discussion about how he and Lennie look out for one another brings out the gulf between appearances and reality, what is as opposed to what should be.  The historical context of the Great Depression makes this discussion even more poignant.  At a time when individuals are constantly looking out for one another and doing so out of fear, Slim's words and George's assertion help to bring out the idea that individuals can overcome their fear and look out for one another.  Such a small dialogue reveals so very much, which is why I would consider it highly significant.

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Of Mice and Men

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