Throughout ‘Of Mice & Men’ power is a key theme; in the main George has power over Lennie whilst Slim has control over most characters. However each of the other characters asserts some form of power at least once throughout the book. In this scene Curley is angry at being humiliated in front of the ranch workers and so he tries to regain some control by starting a fight with Lennie. I will be exploring the shifts in power throughout the scene and what language Steinbeck uses to show the shifts. Curley’s is an aggressive and unpleasant character who is always picking fights; he is handy with his fists. When Lennie and George first arrive at the ranch Candy the swamper, tells them that Curley is ‘alla time picking scrapes with big guys’. It appears that Curley is trying to compensate for his small stature, he wants the respect of the men who work at the ranch and believes that violence and aggression is the only way to prove himself. The scene opens with Curley, the son of the ranch owner left fuming after Carlson a ranch hand calls him “yella of a frogs belly’’. In an attempt to recover power he attacks Lennie. He knows that whilst Lennie is the largest and biggest worker on the ranch he is also a simpleton, is easily intimidated and is unlikely to retaliate or defend himself. Curley sees the physical effect of his verbal outburst on Lennie. Lennie looks ‘helplessly’ at George and tries ‘to retreat’. Curley’s attack is planned because he is ‘balanced and poised’ he is in command of his actions. Hearing Lennie’s ‘cry of terror’ gives Curley a rush of power and incites him too continue his attack.
Lennie is still too frightened to defend himself. Initially George does nothing...
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