Discuss the role of trust on the ranch.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ranch becomes the microcosm of the world for Steinbeck, and for us.  Steinbeck's social realism takes its full hold on the ranch and being able to depict how individuals relate to one another on the ranch becomes the vehicle through which Steinbeck is able to make his points about society.  On one hand, I think that there is a lack of trust on the ranch because of the transitory nature of life on the ranch.  In the opening of Chapter 2, Candy talks to George and Lennie about how guys will make "their stake" and then leave.  Such a contingent condition makes trust very difficult because people leave with such ease, indicating that emotional trust is difficult.  At the same time, the men who work on the ranch do so because of economics.  It is for this reason, struggling to find a job and to make a "stake" in a setting where few are able to do so, where trust is challenged because of the materialist element that underscores all reality.  Having said this, I think that Slim and the respect that the men on the ranch afford him is representative of how trust still exists, albeit in a small form.  The men respect Slim, seeing his word as all defining and all encompassing.  There is little challenge to what Slim says, and an almost universal respect for the man he is.  Even Curley respects what Slim says and to this extent, Steinbeck shows that while trust is in high demand and low supply during the time period, exemplary men like Slim still can garner it.