How does John Steinbeck use techniques to portray power in his novel Of Mice and Men?

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

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I would say that the most evident technique that Steinbeck uses to display power between characters is his use of dialogue.  The spoken communication between characters really brings out where power lies and who has it as opposed to who lacks it.  Consider the scene between Lennie, Crooks, Candy, and Curley's wife.  There is intense dialogue present that brings out how she has power and how they lack it.  This comes out in her denigration of Candy and her insulting of Crooks on a racial level.  This dialogue reveals the power dynamic in which all of the characters live and helps to explain how they will never be able to escape the power that envelops them all.  This same dynamic is seen in the shooting of Candy's dog.  Through dialogue, power is revealed.  The lack of power is also revealed.  In this setting, those who speak up for the dog being shot represent the power, for the voices that believe the dog should live are in the minority.  It is here where I think that a great deal of illumination is present in how power is constructed on the farm and in the society in which the characters live.  Steinbeck's use of narration and through this, dialogue, helps to bring such a condition out to the reader's mind.

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