In Of Mice and Men, how does Slim react to Lennie and George's traveling together?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Slim is introduced into the novel, Steinbeck immediately draws a very distinct contrast between him and the other characters. In addition to his extraordinary skills as a jerkline skinner (Steinbeck refers to Slim as "the prince of the ranch"), Slim possesses personal qualities that set him apart in a spiritual way: "His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought." Having established Slim's nature, Steinbeck then introduces him to George and Lennie in Chapter 2.

Slim approves of George and Lennie immediately. Taking a seat across from George, Slim expresses the hope that he and Lennie will join his team on the ranch. When George gives Lennie a compliment, Slim approves, noticing George's smile. It is at this point that Slim asks, "You guys travel around together?" His tone is "friendly," one that "invited confidence without demanding it." George explains, "Sure . . . We kinda look after each other." Slim's reaction reveals his wisdom as he recognizes a profound truth of the human condition:

Ain't many guys travel around together . . . I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.