Harbir Gill ENG3U1 – 0524 January 2018 Ms. Zinken Sympathy for the Powerless An Examination of the Abuse of Power in Of Mice and Men In the novella Of Mice and Men, the author Steinbeck portrays power as a criticism of human nature. The characters who abuse it should not be sympathized for as the power is used solely for their personal satisfaction. To begin, George uses Lennie’s mental disability as an excuse to have control over him and his decisions. As George tells Slim of his past behaviour with Lennie, he confesses, “it made him seem God damn smart alongside of Lennie… One day… George turns to Lennie and says, ‘jump in’. He damn near drowned before George could get him” (Steinbeck 40). In the novella, it is evident that George is the guardian figure for Lennie, however, George uses Lennie’s mental disability as an excuse to find amusement in pranking him. George being able to play tricks on Lennie and the action of continuing to play them shows that George chooses to not learn from his past mistakes. The sole reason to continue these tricks is to appear far more intelligent when alongside Lennie, as George does not hold an important position in society, and instead uses the small opportunities to obtain the feeling. Furthermore, as a female in this specific era, Curley’s wife has no value in society, and uses her race to hold power over minorities. As Crooks stands up to Curley’s wife, she interrupts him to remind him of the power she has over the ranch workers as her response to Crooks is, “Listen N*****… You know what I can do to you if you open your trap” (Steinbeck 80). As a female in the 1930’s, Curley’s wife holds no importance in society as men consider women to be inferior, hence one of the reasons why she does not have a identifiable name in the text. To maintain respect on the ranch, she uses her position as the daughter-in-law of the ranch’s boss and her race as a caucasian female to hold power over Crooks, a man of colour, whom she threatens as he musters the courage to stand up to her. Moreover, Curley is intimidated by Lennie’s muscular size and uses his position as the boss’ son as an excuse to abuse his power. When Lennie does not talk during the visit to the ranch, Curley says, “Well, nex’ time you answer when you’re spoken to” (Steinbeck 26) to establish his dominance at the ranch. Part of the reason why Curley does not like Lennie is because of his larger physical appearance which is apparent when they first meet, causing Curley to assume that Lennie is trying to threaten his authority. Curley is a tenacious person who decides to use his power from being the boss’ son on the ranch as an excuse to be disrespectful to Lennie. He uses demeaning ways to find wrong in Lennie so that it can justify his harmful actions. In addition, not being able to hold importance in society does not become an excuse to abuse your little-to-no power to obtain value and respect from others. By using sympathy as an excuse to act in demeaning ways towards others, it is suggested that one is abusing the power given to them by their slight personal advantage.