What impression does Steinbeck give of life in the bunkhouse at the beginning of the novel? Steinbeck describes the bunk house as a plain, dark, hostile place with “small, square windows”, this creates the impression of a dark, lonely environment. The workers don’t have proper chairs to sit on, using “grouped boxes”, this shows that there is no comfort within the bunkhouse. The workers belongings are kept in an “apple box” which shows little luxury and comfort. This image is the opposite to the image of the brush; a tranquil, safe place.
Using words like “he stepped out the door into the brilliant sunshine” creates the image of an oppressive room, somewhere you wouldn’t want to stay; a sense of danger nearby. Hierarchy in the ranch is important, some of the characters use body language and clothing to show their status about the ranch. Age has a lot to do with hierarchy in the ranch. We first see this in the image of Candy’s dog, the dog is old and lame, parallel to the image of Candy. The dog is shot later on in the novel because it is worthless in the ranch, because of age similar to Candy.
The amount of work Candy can do is limited because of disability and when the boss thinks he cannot do anything else in the ranch, he will be fired and have nowhere to go. The natural authority shows when Candy talks about Crooks, “Ya see the stable buck’s a nigger. “ this shows that race in the ranch is important in in the hierarchy of the ranch. Crooks is not allowed into the bunkhouse because of race, he sleeps elsewhere, he is lower in the hierarchy of the ranch.
Some characters on the ranch have to show their authority by the way that they dress, the boss is an example “he wore high-heeled boots and spurs to prove he was not a labouring man” this tells us that the boss does not have natural authority within the workers on the ranch and has to prove that he is the boss. Steinbeck does not give the boss a name because he is such a minimal character in the novel, this shows he is not involved with the workers very much throughout this novel.
Curley is another example of this “like the boss, he wore high-heeled boots” Curley feels threatened by bigger men because he is quite small and feels as though he has to act tougher to be more respected. Curley feels that making up rumours about his wife, “Curley says he’s keepin’ that hand soft for his wife” will possibly gain him more respect, like he has something to prove, but instead the workers think its disgusting. Another example of natural hierarchy is Slim. Candy tells George and Lennie about Slim as if he is the boss, “Slim don’t need to wear no high-heeled boots on a grain team. this tells us that all of the workers respect him, he is a natural leader and it doesn’t matter what he wears, they’ll still respect him up to the point Curley apologises to him. In the bunkhouse George is suspicious of Candy, “George said sceptically” this tells us about the distrust between George and the other workers. From this quote we can see the itinerant workers lifestyle, and how isolated and lonely the lifestyle is. When Candy is speaking “George pretended a lack of interest” which tells us that he doesn’t want to get to involved with the stories Candy tells him.
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