Power in of Mice and Men Essay

Words: 1502
Pages: 7

By Maria Liddy

The theme of power is prevalent throughout the novel Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck uses various methods and techniques to establish the dynamics of power on the ranch. In the first extract, George and Lennie are in the brush and we get a strong sense of George’s parental control over Lennie, but it also shows how Lennie’s physical stature gives him a degree of power over George. In extract two we meet Curley for the first time, and his authority over the ranch workers is clearly asserted through the various ways in which Steinbeck describes him. And finally, in extract three, we see the first fight of the novel. The fight is very diverse in how it portrays power. At different stages in the fight some people have more
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These commands show just how pliable Lennie is and how George uses his power to make Lennie comply.
George also uses idle threats to manipulate Lennie.
“…if I didn’t have you on my tail”.
This, again, shows George’s parental control over Lennie and goes hand in hand with his use of the dream to make Lennie work. Just as a child would get no presents at Christmas, Lennie would not be allowed to tend the rabbits if he steps out of line. But, as much as George chastises Lennie, he does give him appropriate encouragement.
“Good boy. That’s swell.”
Extract two focuses on Curley. When he enters the bunkhouse his authority over the ranch workers becomes very apparent. Steinbeck says that “he wore a work glove” and “he wore high-heeled boots”. The simple fact that Curley has to wear certain items of clothing suggests that his authority is somewhat artificial as opposed to Slim, whose power comes naturally.
It is important to note how Curley’s body language changes when he notices the new men. He “glanced coldly”, “his hands closed into fists” and “his glance was at once calculating and pugnacious”. This kind of body language is very aggressive and he uses it to dominate the men. “Lennie squirmed under the look and shifted nervously on his feet” which shows that Curley’s power is very obvious and he continues to assert his power by invading Lennie’s personal space and speaking to him with a very brusque tone.
Curley is quick to confront Lennie, as he feels like