Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What is an example of predator and prey?

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In a superficial and dated analysis, people at one time may have identified Curley's wife as a predator and Lenny as the prey. Curley's wife has been seen as a woman looking for action that's lacking in her marriage who then creates some very obvious trouble by paying the attention she does to Lenny—with tragic results.

This is not the way we should view that situation, and I mention it only as a negative example. It is interesting that even the first film of Of Mice and Men from 1939 portrays Curley's wife (played by Betty Field) as a sympathetic figure victimized by the neglectful and even abusive manner of her husband. It's unhelpful to regard any one person as the predator in this story. If anything, the whole system is the predator, and the laborers who must live under it are the prey.

In the 1930s, there was little care available for handicapped people such as Lenny and probably none at all for those who had no money. George and Lenny, as migrant laborers, are on the lower rungs of the social hierarchy. George must constantly be on guard to protect Lenny while trying to hide the fact that something is wrong with him. Instead of being able to explain to the other men that Lenny has a disability, George and Lenny have to conceal this. It is a recipe for disaster. Even if the situation were handled openly, the result might have been just as bad for Lenny, because there would probably have been little sympathy for him among the others, as there generally was little to none at that time for people with disabilities. It's an economic and social arrangement rigged against the "little guys" and women, because Curley's wife is a victim of it too. So all of them are the prey of a predatory system.

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