The significance of Slim in ‘Of Mice and Men’

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In the novel ‘Of Mice And Men’ written by John Steinbeck, we are first introduced to Slim, when George and Lennie arrive at the ranch; he is first mentioned when they are both told to

“Go out with Slim’s team”, which suggests that he is most probably the leader of a team, which means that he is a good worker. Slim in the novel, Of Mice And Men, is a character which most men respect. The boss describes Slim as being “A big tall skinner”. He seems to be his own boss, and no one can tell him otherwise.

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Further on in the novel we are introduced to Slim when, Lennie and George are playing cards, they are discussing how they don’t like the ranch and want to leave. When Slim walks in he is treated as though he is someone with importance, almost as much importance as the actual boss. He is described as being ” a Jerkline skinner” and “moved with majesty”. Everyone seemed to treat him like a leader, although he was treaded with such respect he was not as callous as the actual boss, or like Curley, with his antagonistic attitude to life. Slim was a kind natured kind of person, who doesn’t seem to be frightened or anxious when Curley’s wife comes in looking for Curley, Slim just says “Hi good lookin'”, where as most people would feel tense, because they would be afraid to say anything because they were so frightened of Curley. This suggests to the readers that Slim is relaxed, not afraid and in a way rather complementary.

He is just like the other ranch workers in a way, by the way that John Steinbeck describes him as wearing; “Blue Jeans and a short denim Jacket, like others”, which tells us that even though he had a sense of majesty about him, he was still included as one of the guys that worked in the ranch. Everyone in the ranch seems to have so much respect for Slim, I know this by the way Steinbeck describes how “Carlson stepped back to let Slim precede him”, which implies the fact that Carlson showed respect for him by letting him go in front of him. The Swamper even described Slim as “A hell of a nice fella. Slim don’t need to wear no high heeled boots”, which tells us that he is naturally a born leader and doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. The way that we know that he also had a sense of heir about him, was suggested by this line, he was described as being the

“Prince of the ranch, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules”.

Which not only tells us how confident he is but also how very sleek he is. Slim is not only a hard worker, but very popular at the same time, he seems to have a way with people, he is the kind of person that seems to draw confidence out of people, by the way that it suggests;

“There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet, so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke”.

Throughout the novel Steinbeck repeats these words “Jerkline Skinner”, many times which suggests how perceptive his senses and understanding of things is. John Steinbeck also gives quite a good side to Slim. In the way that “He looked kindly at the two in the bunk-house”, implies the fact that he is warm and welcoming, and just seems to accept people for who they are. Steinbeck describes Slim as having so much authority that it “Was so great, that his word was taken on any subject be it politics or love”.

Slim seems to be a thinker and had a great understanding of people that not many people had in the ranch, this appeals to the audiences sense of sympathy. He seems to empathise and have compassion for anyone. For example when they are talking about the pups, Slim even though he may not be interested in the subject seems to show a keen idea of what they are on about, he cares about what other people find important. Slim tries to make everyone his favourite by saying things like; “hope you get on my team”, which suggests that he is a kind person, who people feel that they can talk to and confide in, because he can relate to their problems.

Slim seems to bring the theme of loneliness in to play in this novel, Slim seemed to see through everyone and know how they were feeling, I know this by the way that John Steinbeck describes how “Slim looked through George, and beyond him” and states how “Ain’t many guys travel around together, maybe ever’ body in the whole damn world is scared of each other” He admits that it’s nicer to have a companion rather than just work alone, he reminds us of the lack of socialising and communication there is in the ranch, and reminds us how trust was in short-supply in the ranch. Slim admits that Lennie and George’s relationship is much nicer than having no one, which is like Slim in this case, even though everyone seems to like him, he still doesn’t have any close companions.

In the novel, Steinbeck uses Slim to build up a sense of sympathy; you can tell this by the way that Slim talks about Lennie by stating that;

“Maybe he aint bright, but I never seen such a worker. He damn near killed his partner buckin’ barley”. Slim enjoys giving a positive opinion in life, which is quite unusual, just like the relationship between George and Lennie.

Later on in the novel Slim, is described as having “God, like eyes fastened on him”, It shows us that has God-like trust in him.

Slim also seems to have a sixth sense, like Lennie by the way he describes “I can tell a man a mile off”, which is what Lennie can do. Also Slim seems to be one of the intellectual people on the ranch, by the way Steinbeck describes the part where he is asked to read an article and this suggests how no one has been educated. Slim is always asked for his advice and opinion on things, Slim seems to even be forward and confident when speaking to Candy by the way “Candy looked a long time at Slim to try and find some reversal, and Slim gave him non”. Slim seems to be the totally opposite to Curley, it shows the contrast between the two, when Steinbeck describes how Curley “bounced in”. Curley seems to be self absorbed, where as Slim is more compassionate and cares for the others rather than thinking about himself all of the time.

In a way, most people are quite afraid of Slim, because no one is actually certain of what Slim is capable of. Slim is like an un-measured quantity, they don’t know much about him. When Carlson describes Slim with having an ”heir of authority”, and says that

“Jus’ the same, he better leave Slim alone. Nobody knows what Slim can do”.

This suggests how Slim doesn’t actually resort to violence usually, but for Curley he can make an exception.

We can tell how Respected slim his, he seems to have a way with everyone, and even Lennie listens to everything he has to say.

Slim seems to be the only character that seems to be at peace with himself. The other characters seem to look to Slim for advice, for instance, only after Slim agrees that Candy should put his decrepit dog out of his misery, does candy actually think about doing it, and letting go of his dog.

Steinbeck uses Slim as George’s confidant to talk to, and tells us, the readers, what happened in the past. George first asks Slim not to tell anyone he says; “You wouldn’t tell? No of course you wouldn’t”. This shows that George can trust Slim, even without making him promise, to not tell anyone. It’s because Slim is a trustworthy kind of person.

When George talks to Slim about weed there is “a clang of horseshoe”, just before, this may also sound, like the clang of a kneel, which is the warning of evil and in this novel, a warning of death. Steinbeck is hinting that something evil will happen and right after this sound, George tells Slim about what actually happened in Weed.

There is also an exchange between Carlson and Slim, which emphasises the theme of sacrifice that Steinbeck develops through the novel. Slim has to drown the four least healthy, of his dog’s nine puppies, so that the others may survive. Carlson also suggests that Candy should sacrifice his dog, for the worthless mutt, was now a burden to others.

In the end, Slim comforts George, because he seems to understand the nature of the bond between George and Lennie.

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The significance of Slim in ‘Of Mice and Men’. (2017, Oct 29). Retrieved from

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