How does Steinbeck give dignity to the characters George and Slim?John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Milton and Slim of Of Mice and Men both possess innate qualities which enable them to attain dignity; George is perceptive and intelligent and Slim has "god-like eyes" and ears that hear more than is said to him; he has an expertise that endows him "with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen."  He is "the prince of the farm" because he can handle twenty mules with only one rein. His manner is such that his authority is "so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love."

While George, being new, must earn his dignity, Slim has already attained recognition.  From their arrival at the bunkhouse, there is no one who ridicules George and Lennie.  George insists on cleanliness from the moment that he arrives in the bunkhouse. After Curley threatens to fight Lennie, Lennie begs George, "Don't let him sock me, George."  So, George explains that they will be fired if anything happens, but later tells Lennie,

"Don't let him pull you in--but--if the son-of-a- ___socks you--let 'im have it."

In this way, Lennie and he will not be humiliated, George reasons.

In response to Slim's "calm invitation to confidence," George talks with him about how other men are lonely, but he has Lennie as a friend.  While they converse, Slim neither encourages nor discourages him.  "He just sat back quiet and receptive," treating George with respect.  Always dignified, Slim's eyes are "level and unwinking" and calm.

In the final scene of the novel, Slim consoles George, dignifying George's act by telling him, "You hadda George, I swear you hadda." Then, he offers to take George to have a drink, walking with his arm around George's back.

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Of Mice and Men

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