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Barron's Booknotes-Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
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Remember the discussion about light and dark images at the beginning of this scene? Good feelings (light) now seem to have replaced the dark clouds caused by the killing of the dog. Steinbeck comments, "This thing they had never really believed in was coming true." Both George and Lennie experience unusual religious feelings. In a "reverent" way, George says, "Jesus Christ! I bet we could swing her," and Lennie adds, in his imitating way, "I bet by Christ he [the puppy] likes it there, by Jesus."

Why do you think Candy is the one who wants to be part of the dream instead of one of the other men, such as Slim or Whit? Maybe because Candy is as afraid of loneliness as George and Lennie. Or maybe because he is he feels as out of place in the bunk house as they do. Or maybe because he is the only other person on the ranch who understands the importance of companionship. Now that Candy is accepted as a friend, he can confide a deeply important and personal thought to George. He tells George that he should have shot his dog himself and not let a stranger do it. Remember this comment: it's another important moment of foreshadowing.

We have now seen one dark event and one light event in this chapter. We're about to confront another dark happening. Curley, who did not fight Slim, comes into the bunk house. He is still itching for a fight. When he sees Lennie still smiling over the thought of the future ranch, Curley thinks Lennie is smirking at him. He begins to punch the big man and draws blood. Lennie doesn't know what to do until George urges him to fight back. He grabs Curley's hand in his "paw" and flops the man around until the hand is crushed.



NOTE: HAND IMAGES

In the fight between Curley and Lennie, we are swamped with mentions of the word "hand" or with hand images. In fact, "hand" or its synonyms are used more than 100 times in the novel. Curley is "handy"; Lennie is "not handy"; Lennie has paws; Candy is missing a hand. Steinbeck seems to be trying to show us that the people on the ranch are manual laborers, people who use their hands more than, or instead of, their brains. Slim's comment to Curley after the fight seems to fit this idea. Slim asks Curley, whose hand is crushed, "You got your senses in hand enough to listen?" Look for more hand images in the book and remember that it is Lennie's thinking and acting with his hands that usually gets him in trouble.

The scene draws to a close with Slim's convincing Curley to say his hand got caught in a machine and George's assuring Lennie that he did nothing wrong. Violence is a natural part of the ranch world, as it is in nature. Once again everything is calm as the curtain falls on another scene.

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Barron's Booknotes-Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
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