Why does George humble himself when talking to Slim in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As only two of thousands of itinerant workers, George and Lennie are in precarious positions when they are on jobs because they can be easily replaced. So, when the "big, tall skinner," Slim, enters the bunkhouse with "a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen," he moves with authority.

In Chapter 4 when Slim asks George why he goes around with "a cuckoo" like Lennie when he is a "smart guy," George says,

"I ain't so bright neither, Or I wouldn't be buckin' barley for my fifty and found....I'd have my own little place, an' I'd be bringin' in my own crops 'stead of doin' all the work and not getting what comes up outa the ground."

There are three reasons that George deprecates himself before Slim. 

  1. He does not want to seem too different from Lennie and arouse suspicion. 
  2. By belittling himself some, George ingratiates himself to his boss and makes himself less of a threat
  3. He really does think that he has not been clever and smart enough to have managed a better way to live.

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