How does John Steinbeck show the violent lifestyle that ranch hands lived during the Depression in Of Mice and Men? Please refer to Candy's dog and the fight between Lennie and Curley.

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Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of Mice and Men is full of acts of violence.  The shocking aspect of Steinbeck's inclusion of violence in the novel is that the characters are neither shocked nor terribly bothered by it.  George admits that he has "beat the hell outta [Lennie]" and even "socked him over the head with a fence picket."  Carlson tells Candy that he will be glad to shoot Candy's dog for him, "right in the back of the head" so the dog will "never know what hit him," as if Carlson is doing Candy some sort of favor.  The other men are not only unalarmed but also agree with Carlson.  When Lennie brutally mutilates Curley's hand in their fight, Slim's reaction is that "this punk sure had it comin' to him."  Even when George kills Lennie at the end of the novel, Slim only says, "You hadda, George.  I swear you hadda."  None of the characters ever seem the least distressed over the violence that surrounds them, but merely accept it as part of their environment and their survival; for to complain could mean the end of their employment, and during this time period, that could also mean the end of their lives. 

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Of Mice and Men

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