Throughout Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony and The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck professes his admiration for the man who displays skill and craftsmanship in his work. A man who does his job exceedingly well is, by extension in Steinbeck's works, a hero who is satisfied in doing his best in affection for his craft - a direct contrast to the multitude of humans who are merely unsuccessful and unhappy dreamers.
The emphasis of skill and craftsmanship is particularly evident in a description of Slim in Of Mice and Men:
He moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerkline skinner, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders. He was capable of killing a fly on a wheeler's butt with a whip without touching the mule. (97)
Steinbeck makes it clear that the professional prowess of this man is to be equated with his authority, understanding, and compassion. Slim is, for example, the only man who tries to comfort George at the end of the novel when his companion, Lennie dies. When Steinbeck describes Slim as a person whose "authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love" (98), Warren French notes that Steinbeck "breaks his editorial silence...to make it absolutely clear how Slim is to be regarded" (78). Clearly, Steinbeck regards Slim's morally upstanding character highly enough to consider it prudent to describe outright his feelings toward him. In regard to the other characters, he had been satisfied to let an objective description and an account of each character's actions stand on their own merit.
On a similar note, Bil...
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... these character's - Slim's, Billy Buck's, Doc's, and Casy's- tremendous will to achieve the human ideal.
French, Warren. John Steinbeck. New York: Twayne, 1961. .
---------- John Steinbeck. Boston: Twayne, 1975.
Heiney, Donald W. Essentials of Contemporary Literature. New York: Barron's, 1958.
Lisca, Peter. The Wide World of John Steinbeck. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University,1958.
Mintner, David. "The Fate of Writing during the Great Depression". A Cultural History Of the American Novel. http://ocean.st.usm.edu/ ~wsimkins/minter.html>. 19 June 1997. (5 May 1999).
Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. New York: Bantam, 1945.
---------- The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Compass, 1958.
----------. Of Mice and Men. New York: Bantam, 1955.
----------. The Red Pony. New York: Bantam, 1948.
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