Slim - 1
Slim - 'jerkline skinner', in control of a team of horses, and is also seen as the leading worker and leader in the bunkhouse.
- 'Godlike' 'Moved with majesty' suggests an attractive, prince like appearance, confirmed by urley's suspicions that his wife is arrtracted to Slim, and how the other men all look up to admire him.
- 'Understanding beyond thought' He doesnt have to think things through to understand them; he realises instinctively how George and Lennie get along, what Lennie is like, and why George had to kill Lennie.
- 'There was gravity in his manner... all talk stopped when he spoke.' He is very well respected by the other ranch workers, who always listen to him; what he says usually has 'gravity' - a sense of power and importance.
- 'His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer.' His hands are masculine and strong, yet still skilful and tender, implying that he is almost like an artist, or performer, as the simile suggests. Like an M and M, hard exterior, soft on the inside.
Slim - 2
Seems to symbolise decency, and is the sense of conscience in the novel. Has general decency and practical understanding. He knows that life is hard, and that the majority of dreams don't come true, it is for this reason he drowns some of the puupies, as the mother 'couldn't feed that many' simply, he deals in facts. Despite being charismatic, pirnce like, understanding and skilled, Steinbeck also implies that Slim is trapped by the life he leads.
Curley is the Boss's son, a small, aggressive young man with a reputation as a fighter and a grudge against the world.He wears a glove as he is 'keeping that hand soft for his wife'.
As Candy says at the start of the novel, Curley 'won't ever get canned 'cause his old man's the boss.' Curley's power is huge and he knows it, he is a walking example of social injustice and corruption in the novel. Injustice is one of the main themes in the novel, presented as a fact of life, one that won't ever be changed, and is still with us even now. Curley is a major figure in revealing the injustice of the world ranch hands live and work in.
Lennie Small is an itinerant farm worker like George. Has a child's mind in a man's body, as Slim observes, 'He's jes' like a kid'. Extrordinarily strong, described frequently as bearlike. He is a simpleton, whose mind has never learnt how to control his body.
Lennie's portrayal is more complex than 'He is strong, but innocent.' Lennie is decribed as more of an animal than a child, animals are innocent, they don't know morals, but animals are also extremely dangerous, they act on instinct. Lennie is described as a bear, the only way he can cope is to be like a tame dog, tethered always to his master (George), but he also has the extreme power bears display when protecting their young. Lennie protects George by crushing Curley's hand just as a bear would tear you limb from limb is it thought its cubs were in danger.
George - 1
- George Milton is an itinerant farm worker, one of the many who travel around the country from job to job with no permanent home. He is Lennie's friend and companion.
- George symbolises the typical emigrant farm workers - decent men trapped by their job and haunted by loneliness.
- These men have next to no control over their lives. George's dream of owning land is more about being independent.
- Thousands of other workers share the same dream, as Crooks says, 'Ever' body wants a little piece of lan''. But with Lennie, the dream dies.
- Looking after Lennie has cost George alot, 'If I was alone I could live so easy.' Joining other ranch workers for a night at a whore house shows George yearns for a normal life.
- Through George, Steinbeck shows that intelligence on its own is worth little, if it weren't, both George and Crooks would be rich men.
- Lennie gives George companionship and a role in life, his task is to simply care for Lennie, as a father cares for a child. Gives George a superior status, Lennie is Geogre's bodyguard. 'We kinda look after each other.' George to Slim.
- George shows moral growth over course of novel, looking after Lennie matures him and makes him think, increasing awareness of the moral problems raised in novel.
George - 2
- Shows off the power he has over Lennie, 'Made me seem God damn smart alongside of him.' Shame felt over putting Lennie in danger stopped him, shooting Lennie being the culmination of what learnt, almost inevitable.
- George full of compasion, why wants a clean death for Lennie, doesn't want Curley to torture him.
- George is responsible, he brought Lennie to farm so the responsibility of what happened to him is his, accepts this with great heroism.
- Disgustingly sexist, describes Curley's wife as 'tramp' '********'. Has no experience with women, only seen them when they are at the root of trouble.
The young, attractive newly wed wife of Curley. She has dreams of being a star. Note we never get her name, and the apostrophe makes her the possession of Curley.
The only woman we really hear about in the entire novel, Suzy and Aunt Clara only mentioned in passing. Depicted as weak and troublesome.
In the Miss Luce letter Steinbeck carefully explained how he saw the character, saying she is essentially a good and trusting person who grew up 'in an atmosphere of fighting and suspicion.' Her toughness is a pretence, it is all she knows but doesn't want. She has recognised her sexuality is the only power she has, and will ever have, it is the only thing that gets her any attention, so she merticulessly makes herself up, trying to revel in the attention.
Candy lost his right hand in a farm accident and is now reduced to the meanest job on the ranch, that of a 'swamper' or a lowly cleaner. He is kept only as a compensation for his accident and has very little power.
It would take only very little to revitalise Candy, all he wants is some land and animals of his own. Candy 'grinning with delight' as him and Lennie plan their dream on the ranch. Perhaps Steinbeck is not asking us to judge by appearances, but to see people for who they are on the inside.
The stable buck for the ranch, the man who provides the support for the many horses and mules the farm needs. He has a bent spine and the charaters all refer to him as '*****' an extremely offensive word. He is the only black character, and faces a lot of prejudice and inequality, even though he is far more intelligent than many of the other workers. He holds the least power in the ranch, and clings on to any power he does have by knowing his rights inside and out. 'You got no right to be in here'.
A man who through no fault of his own has been sidelined as unimportant. After warming to Lennie's dream, he realises that it is nothing more than a fantasy that is doomed to fail. Like Crooks, we want to believe in the dream depsite everything we know, and like Crooks, we come to realise that it is an impossible dream.
The Boss is a stocky, short litle man. He is a reasonable person, who gets angry at times. He is a very distant figure. His wife is never mentioned, and it could be assumed that she is dead.
Carlson is 'a powerful, big-stomached man' who is an insensitive ranch hand. He is the one who shoots Candy's dog. The same pistol is later used to kill Lennie.
Whit is a young ranch hand, who finds a ltetter in a magazine written by an old ranch hand. He is superficial and has no real involvement, expect as the one who reports the death of Curley's wife.