Slim - OF mice and men


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Slim is presented by Steinbeck as 'the Prince of the ranch' ­ he is one of the few respectable characters in
the novella and the only character that seems at peace with himself. He has a calming force in the novella as
he is portrayed as a levelheaded guy ­ Slim serves a rational voice in the midst of all the loneliness and
chaos in the novella.
Steinbeck introduces Slim in to the novel with,' A tall man stood in the doorway.' This is similarly done with
Curley's wife however is contrasted by what this suggests ­ as Curley's wife stood in the door way to
block sunlight to forewarn the darkness that she will bring to the novella whereas Slim is placed at the door
way to contrast the darkness brought by her with light ­ suggesting an element of hope. Steinbeck
describes him as, 'he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty' and as 'prince of the ranch' the
numerous references to royal imagery suggests to the reader the significance of Slim's character but also
suggests that ­ like royalty, he is respected. We then later understand why Slim is a respectable character
­ unlike the boss and Curley, Slim does not wear 'highheeled boots' which conveys to the reader that he is
a genuine man. The high heeled boots are worn by the boss and Curley to separate them from the others
on the ranch but also to give them both height to demand a sense of respect ­ Steinbeck choses not to do
this with Slim to suggest that Slim can gain the respect of others without 'highheeled boots'. Steinbeck
portrays Slim as an ordinary man at the time as he 'wore jeans and a denim jacket' which is the typical
clothing worn by ranch workers at the time suggesting that Slim sees himself as equal to the ranch workers
­ which allows the reader to feel greater sense of respect towards him due to this.
Slim is portrayed as a vision of ordinariness as he is portrayed as having 'a hatchet face' which highlights his
imperfections as Steinbeck doesn't want him to be perceived as perfect as if he was ­ then this would take
away the sense of admiration the reader ­ as well as the men on the ranch feel towards him. This is
emphasised further with the use of ' his ear heard more than was said,' which suggests that people are
constantly coming to him for advice ­ suggesting almost like a godlike image of him as he possesses
enough power to be able to tell others what to do. The metaphor 'he smoothed out his crushed hat'
supports this as ­ like he fixes the hat, he also fixes everyone else's problems.
When Slim is first introduced to George and Lennie he is said to have 'looked kindly' them and he is
described as speaking 'gently'. The use of these adverbs sum up Slim's nature as that is exactly what Slim is
­ Kind and gentle. Slim is perceptive as from first meeting George and Lennie he asks, 'You guys travel
together?' he immediately knows this which emphasises his Godlike nature as he is almost in a sense
omniscient. Here Slim contrasts the bosses and Curley's approach to the two men as he ' invited
confidence without demanding it,' again Slim is described as being a character which the others are in
sense drawn to. He is also one of the only characters in the novella which does not find George and Lennie
travelling together peculiar, instead he responds by stating, ' maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is
scared of each other.' Here Steinbeck reveals another of Slim's traits as he is perceived here as wise this
also reveals to the reader what society was like at the time of the great depression, as everyone was living
in fear of losing their jobs to others.
In contrast to the others on the ranch, Slim is the only character who doesn't seem to have a disruptive
force on nature ­ instead Steinbeck describes him as in control of nature which is shown by the following
quote,' he was capable of killing a fly on the wheeler's butt without touching the mule.' This suggests to the
reader that Slim is almost like a predator in the sense that he is so precise however he choses not to
behave like a predator towards the others on the ranch ­ highlighting his levelheaded nature. Steinbeck
uses a paradox to describe his features as he describes his hands as,' large' and 'delicate' ­ to suggest that
he is almost a paradox himself as he physically appears like a predator due to his size however his
personality contrasts this greatly. This is developed further as we see Steinbeck describe him as having 'a
gravity in his manner'. The choice of the word gravity suggests that he acts as a stabilising force on the
ranch keeping those around him down to earth but this also implies that he is in a sense is in control of
those around him.

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Slim's Godlike image is elaborated further by Steinbeck in section two as we hear he 'drowned' four of his
dogs puppies as 'she couldn't feed that many' ­ although it appears cruel at first we can understand that
what he did was for the greater good which almost foreshadows the death of Lennie ­ as it is for the
greater good.…read more


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