Task 5

Part 1:

Are power and strength the same thing?

Power: the ability to do something or act in a particular way, esp. as a faculty or quality.

Strength: the quality or state of being strong.

To argue that power and strength are the same is a quite difficult task as they are definitely different concepts. Power is a sense of authority or a right in doing something where as strength is what one has as an attribute of his/her own. This is to say that power is more of an idea rather than something physical and tangible.

Part 2:

As the society today runs in the capitalist and democratic system ( mostly) the definition of power is now another term for affluence or political power. Those with wealth are considered powerful and with money, they are capable of doing unlimited things. Those who were voted to be the people’s leaders have power, even though it is for a limited period of time, with which they can obtain the position of authority.

In “Of mice and men” ,

Curley: As the boss’ son, he can ‘can’ men as he wishes. Also his reputation as being ‘handy’ and his physical strength give him this power where he can be a man with power.

Slim: With the respect he has from other workers and his ability as a worker which is far beyond that of the others, he has power to act on his own will. His wisdom lets others to treat him with kindness and to a extent where they even let him be the one to decide on some affairs. This power of his is stronger than that of Curley’s and this can be identified where Curley apologizes to him (or begs Slim to forgive him) after Curley is proven wrong to be suspicious of Slim being with Curley’s wife.

Boss: The boss is the one who hired all the workers. Curley’s power comes from the boss and the boss is, as the one who holds all the right regarding money, the one with the power.

Curley’s wife: Her power is shown when she puts Crooks back into a defensive manner after Crooks criticizes her. Again, she has the power and this power comes from Curely.

The power in novella is given to the characters from John Steinbeck. It is one of the factors which compose a character as a whole. In this sense, it can be defined as a characteristic of a figure in the novella. In real life, power defines one’s statute in the society. A man with power puts himself on the top of the pyramid.

Crooks: He has knowledge ( he can read, which is rare for a colored man in the era where the novella takes place.) and even, physical strength (He beats up Carlson by using his fists, despite his physical disadvantage as a disabled man).

Lennie: He has mental issues but still is the character with the strongest physical attribute in the novella. But still, it is clear that he has no power.

Strength in a novella is a tool to give a character a strong point which can be later on used as a tool to involve the character in an occasion as the novella progresses. In real life, everyone has at least one kind of strength ranging from intellectual strength to emotional strength.

As I went through the reflection, I could think deeper about what makes the differences between power and strength. Also, as I tried to apply the concepts to the novella, I could visualize them, hence enhancing my understanding .

“Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” ~Leo Buscaglia

Cruelty comes from fear. Why one becomes cruel to the others is purely because he/she is afraid. One with true strength has no reason to be in fear or be afraid as he possess a quality which puts him in the higher position. Therefore, one shall not exert his own cruelty to the others. If there is no reason to be cruel, he will be kind and caring. The weak ones, with no strong point in themselves, have no time to be gentle. To survive, they’d rather make others suffer and drop them from this survival. They ought to do so by showing cruelty upon others. Again, the strong ones have no reason to behave in such a way. They have this relaxed mindset to be gentle and such is the reason why gentleness can only be expected from the strong.

Curley, for example, may have power but he is weak. He is short and small. Boxing he learned, the high-heels, the aggressive attitude… these are all his own methods of covering his weaknesses. In comparison, Slim is strong. He has power and he holds the strong points and he is well aware of it. Therefore, he can be gentle and humble, not afraid as he does not possess a weakness in him.

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Task 4

English Task 4

Character: Slim

Physical description:

Pg 31.

“ A tall man stood in the doorway. He held a crushed Stetson hat under his arm while he combed his long, damp, black hair straight back… This was Slim, the jerk-like skinner.”

Name Analysis

In the novel, Slim’s name is obviously derived from his physical attributes. He is tall and definitely, ‘slim’. His true nature of being someone with wisdom and leadership can be identified from his behavior shown throughout the novel, not necessarily from his name. The name, rather than contributing in forming his character, gives a chance for the readers to visualize him as an image in their minds.

Attitude

Pg 32

“ …, he said gently”

“His tone was friendly. It invited confidence without demanding it”

pg 61

“ George said, “Slim, will we get canned now?…” Slim smiled wryly.”

Slim’s attitude towards others is not only displayed in one quote but throughout the novel. Whereas others, such as the boss, are negative and are quite self-centered in their attitudes, it is clear in Slim’s behavior towards George and Lennie when they first encounter Slim that he is a humble man. Also, when he takes care of the situation where Lennie lcrushed Curley’s hand, he handles the situation smoothly and so well that he leaves no chance of Curley going back at Lennie. Showing the ability to recognize what has happened clearly and being able to comprehend further into the minds of other characters, he shows wisdom and prudence which no other characters do.

Reactions

In the novel, the image others have of Slim is very positive in a sense that all they speak of Slim is complementary. They describe him of the one who can work efficiently, interact with othershumbly, and lead them workers who have individualistic attitude. Others have at least one faulty in their characteristics but Slim does not. It is also shown in the conversation between George and Slim that he is a good listener. All these positive aspects of his character deservedly earns respect from other workers, which is seemingly difficuly regarding the social atmosphere of that era in which the novel takes place.

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Task 3

Theme: What a human needs is companionship, especially  in the times of individuality, strong enough to support oneself in times of trial.

In the passage, Steinbeck tries to display the values of a true companionship and redefine it as a relationship so strong that knowing troubles will follow, one will try to save the other.

Steinbeck from the beginning until the passage builds up the tension between characters and describes fully the personalities of every characters so that their actions are justifiable. Every event that takes place in the scene have set up for it in the previous descriptions. Lennie, for example, kills a puppy and he is scared of George being mad at him, not feeling guilty of what he has done. The attitude of Lennie is easily understood and so natural that we do not hesitate to admit that ‘that’ was what must have happened.

The foreshadowing for the dispute in between Lennie and Curley are clear, perhaps so clear, that it is foreseen by the readers. As the readers are expecting such event to occur in the novel, the importance is not what literally happens but what can be seen after it occurs. With foreshadowing, we are able to be prepared for what is about to come and have guesses which involves us more into the story. In a short story like ‘Of mice and men’, it is vital that in a small amount of text, a large impact is to be embedded and the involvement which the foreshadowing gives does its job very well. For instance, the scene descriptions of Lennie appearing into the vast fields of Salinas Valley (In the very first scene and the last), the slightly different description regarding the heron is hard to notice but the parallel structure helps us to catch it and have a good guess on what will happend to Lennie.

The slightest action has a value on its own as Steinbeck has not a single work that has no purpose to it as the novella is relatively short considering the general topic it is trying to discuss. Even a very brief description that Lennie’s face was covered with blood (“The big face was covered with blood”) is not placed at that specific moment for no reason. It is short, but a powerful novel and to build in such strong power into the short story, every single word and phrases are placed purposefully.

It is there so that the part as Lennie fights back can function as a sort of a climax where the built-up tension is all gone after.

The very visual way of writing of that of Steinbeck enables the readers to visualize what actually is happening at the scene. His strong descriptive language does one job. As in every paragraph in the beginning of a scene there are scene descriptions, scenes can be followed and reproduced visually in the imaginary images of the readers. This surely enhances the level of comprehension the readers are capable of and the deeper their understandings go, the deeper they may reach into the theme which fulfills the goal of the entire writing process Steinbeck is going through.

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Task 2 : Style and Language

Task 2

Theme from task 1: The need for companionship in the times of individuality.

    • Identify 3-4 general stylistic features of Of Mice and Men.

The novella, ‘Of Mice and Men’, has several significant features within it, which are quite distinct from other pieces of other authors. Firstly, the novella (as it is a novella) takes a format of theatrical work but written in a way one would write a novel. In the beginning of every chapter, there is a scene description and the text itself contains majorly of dialogues from characters and the actions they take.  (i.e. George sat on the bunk and closely examined the yellow can.) This is as if a theatre piece is commanding what the actors will be doing on the scene. Steinbeck, secondly, uses symbolism and similes in order to provide the readers with a theme. The similar imagery which he creates between the old dog and Candy portrays the theme of ‘being exploited’ and ‘being neglected once they have lost their value’. With Carlson’s quote (“Well, looka here, Slim. I been thinkin’. That dog of Candy’s is so God damn old he can’t hardly walk. Stinks like hell, too. Ever’ time he comes into the bunk house I can smell him for two, three days. Why’n’t you get Candy to shoot his old dog and give him one of the pups to raise up? I can smell that a mile away. Got no teeth, damn near blind, can’t eat.) he also effectively stresses on the message he wants to deliver to the readers. How he creates the similar imagery is also a matter of great interest; Steinbeck describes their physical attributes to be coinciding, both with physical disabilities. Also they were both good workers when they were young and they are now old. Steinbeck makes this interrelation between the two figures so clearly with figurative language so that it is not able to dismiss his message for the readers. Lastly, the text has strong characteristics of the author, Steinbeck. It employs significant amount of eloquent and figurative speech  while the scenes and physical descriptions of the background are to be done. However, while the scene moves on and focuses on the interaction between the characters, the text tends to be simpler, and in a plain manner. This contrast not only accentuates the effect of the figurative language in describing the scenes but gives the readers the chance to follow the scenes quickly, step by step.

    • Format of Novella: ‘A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hill side bank and runs deep and green … that come to drink in the dark.’
    • The same figurative and eloquent language- Intro of chapter 1.
    • Theatrical format (describing characters’ every action): ‘George unslung his bindle and dropped it gently on the bank.’
    • Continued dialogues as if a the actors are having a conversation. (pg.3)
    • Simple and plain language: ‘Geroge looked sharply at him. “What’d you….pocket?’ “Aint a thing in my pocket,” Lennie said cleverly.
    • Plain and simple language he employs: (as above. ex)pg.5)
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Of Mice and Men Task 1: Theme Identification

Task1

Theme: The need for companionship in the times of individuality.

 

-George, on loneliness and Lennie: “I ain’t got no people. I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain’t no good. They don’t have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin’ to fight all the time. . . ‘Course Lennie’s a God damn nuisance most of the time, but you get used to goin’ around with a guy an’ you can’t get rid of him”

 

-The quote clearly displays George’s need for someone to accompany himself. Before he says the above, he continues to defend and speak in favor of Lennie, in the times where it can never be  “seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy” as the boss describes it. George can live on his own, but he does not, taking care of a man with lack of intelligence for one goal: keeping someone as his company who he can trust to avoid loneliness.

 

-The behavior of George regarding Lennie.

-George in the beginning of novella seems to be the one who ‘harasses’ the big man verbally. However, as the plot develops, his true emotions on Lennie seem to be uncovered gradually. When Lennie tells George he can leave and live alone, George clearly cares about Lennie by worrying that George might get ‘shot mistaken to be a coyote’. When Lennie asks George to talk of the ‘dream’ they have, George, even though he is reluctant, speaks it out not  missing a point. The dream also is a dream of two, not one. George even tells Lennie to hide where he told him to in case of any trouble, until George comes and finds him. The question of why George is taking so much care of Lennie is aroused and the answer comes simultaneously: “The trust and companionship in between them”. Georges character is revealed and in the end of the scene, we are able to visualize the true relationship that underlies between these two men.

 

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