Who are the powerful characters in Of Mice and Men?

Powerful characters in Of Mice and Men include Lennie, Curley, and Slim. Each of these men is powerful in a different way. In terms of physical power, Lennie Small is the most powerful character in Of Mice and Men. In terms of social hierarchy, Curley is the most powerful. But when it comes to respect and influence, Slim has the most power.

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In Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck explores the meanings of power through the array of characters he presents. Power can be understood as physical, social, economic, and moral. Four characters who embody power in different ways are Lennie, Curley, George, and Slim.

Lennie’s power lies is...

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In Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck explores the meanings of power through the array of characters he presents. Power can be understood as physical, social, economic, and moral. Four characters who embody power in different ways are Lennie, Curley, George, and Slim.

Lennie’s power lies is his physical strength and his stamina. He is repeatedly presented as having tremendous physical abilities. George also mentions one positive value of teaming with Lennie is that the ranch bosses’ preference for men who have endurance. Lennie’s physical strength is also shown when he injures Curley after Curley provokes him. These qualities are offset, however, by Lennie’s lack of control.

As the boss’s son, Curley has social and economic power. Even though he is younger than many of the hands, his family position gives him considerable power over them. His tendency to abuse his position is shown in his threatening behavior.

In overlapping but slightly different ways, George and Slim have moral and ethical power. Both are shown as men of personal integrity. George’s leadership qualities give him some power over Lennie, as he sometimes manages to direct their wanderings and has formulated a plan for their future. Slim is the conscience of the ranch. His power as the moral compass of the group helps give George the strength to make his difficult decision to end Lennie’s life.

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Even though they are the protagonists, Lennie and George are rather powerless throughout Of Mice and Men. Part of the main message that Steinbeck attempts to portray in this story revolves around the powerlessness of the downtrodden to achieve their dreams when more powerful people would abuse them.

This takes us to Curley. Although he is a physically small man, as the son of the ranch's owner and the overseer, Curley holds power over all the ranchhands, including Lennie and George. It does not matter that he is disliked by those he oversees. His power to order them around means that he can be condescending, rude, and abusive with little repercussion. With so many people desperate for the work that Curley provides, he has become a very powerful job provider and he wields this power as a weapon.

On the ranch, the next most powerful character is Slim. He works as a ranch hand like the others, but in many ways he is the most respected person there. His quiet competency and wisdom earns him the respect of the others so that when he gives directions, they are willingly followed.

When viewed side by side, Curley and Slim each portray a different kind of power. Curley exerts his power through threats of violence and coercion. Slim, on the other hand, earns his power by leading through example and dispensing judicious advice. Curley is feared while Slim is respected. As such, these two characters are an interesting study in different types of power.

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The most powerful character in the book in terms of positional power is Curley, while Slim is the person with the most personal power.

Curley is not well-liked on the ranch, but he is nevertheless powerful because he is the owner's son, with the freedom to hire, fire, and boss around the ranch hands. His insecurities undermine his authority. Because he is physically small, he is constantly looking to prove himself against other men. Although only married to him a short time, his young wife has already tired of his self-absorption.

Slim is not a ranch owner and does not, therefore, have positional power, but he is the most respected figure on the ranch, and his word is what is most often followed. Slim gains the respect of others because of his competency and character. He is a jerkline skinner, "the prince of the ranch," able to handle as many as twenty mules at once. He radiates a quiet, self-assured, compassionate strength:

His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love.

Steinbeck uses Curley and Slim as contrasting portraits of power. In Curley's hands, power is cruel, coercive, and exploitative. Curley sees life as hierarchical and always has to assert that he is in charge. Slim, on the other hand, exhibits a power that cares for, listens to, and nurtures the potential in other human beings. He is so comfortable within himself that he feels no need to create hierarchies. In the end, Slim carries more power on the ranch than Curley.

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In John Steinbeck's classic novel Of Mice and Men, characters have varying degrees of power in a fairly rigid class structure of ranch hands and foremen. There are also characters who display a great deal of physical power and characters whose power is in influence and respect rather than given authority.

One of the major plot points of this novel is the physical strength of Lennie Small, a strength which he does not seem to understand. This physical power has caused the death of many living things, even things that were precious to Lennie. The climax of the novel occurs when Lennie uses his physical power to accidentally kill Curley's wife.

Another powerful character in this novel is Curley. His power is not in physical strength but in authority. He's described as a small man and is intimidated by those with bigger stature. He's the boss's son, however, so he has authority given to him by the owner of the ranch. He wields this power in condescending ways and is highly disliked by the ranch hands.

Slim is a wise old ranch hand who has the respect of the other ranch hands, unlike Curley. Because he enjoys the respect of the other workers, he has a great deal of influence over what choices they make. He's described as quiet and observant, and the others listen to what he has to say when he speaks. In contrast to Curley, the ranch hands appreciate and in some cases depend upon his wisdom and insights. Ranch hands only do what Curley wants them to do because they have to or they will lose their jobs. Slim is the one who is finally able to convince Candy that it's time to let his old, infirmed dog go. It can also be inferred that Slim planted the idea in George's mind to kill Lennie. After the ranch hands find Curley's wife and presume that Lennie killed her, George and Slim have a conversation. George pleads with the wise man that Lennie didn't mean to do it, and hasn't got any meanness in him. Slim replies:

Slim nodded. "We might," he said. "If we could keep Curley in, we
might. But Curley's gonna want to shoot 'im. Curley's still mad
about his hand. An' s'pose they lock him up an' strap him down
and put him in a cage. That ain't no good, George."

Slim understands the relationship George and Lennie had. He also understands that George would be doing Lennie kindness if he took his life, just like Candy putting his dog out of his misery. Slim's influence led George to make what he viewed as the most humane decision for his friend.

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