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.
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.