The episode I am going to use to show how tension is created in “OF Mice and Men” is when Curley has a fight with Lennie. This section starts near the end of chapter three. It is obvious that somewhere within “Of Mice and Men” Lennie is going to have a confrontation with Curley because of the clues earlier in the book. For example when Lennie and George first meet Curley he is some what unwelcoming and confrontational, “He glanced coldly at George and then at Lennie. His arms gradually bent at the elbows and his hands closed into fists.” This seems like Curley is preparing himself for a fight and certainly isn?t the way I would act when I first met someone unless I was highly intimidated by the person, which I think Curley is. After this we find out, from Candy, that Curley does not like big men, “Curley?s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys.” Candy later says this is probably because he isn?t a “big guy” himself. He also says that Curley spends most of his time picking scraps with big guys.
Yet again in chapter two George is warning Lennie to fight back if Curley starts anything, “You keep away from Curley…if the son-of-a-bitch socks you – let ‘im have it.” This shows that even George has realised that a confrontation is imminent, unfortunately Lennie is too dumb to understand what the danger is. This is a realistic reaction by George trying to protect Lennie considering they have grown up together. Introducing the element of danger, to Lennie, into the story right from the start results in a slow build up of tension all the way through the story because the reader is always trying to anticipate when the fight is going to happen. Also the confrontation between two of the main characters on the ranch is a clever idea because each time the two are mentioned together or in the same place tension will peak because a confrontation is even more likely at that point. The section I am going to concentrate on starts with Slim, Curley, Carlson and Whit entering the bunk house. There had been thought of a fight between Slim and Curley. Tension is already at quite a high point. This was because Curley is very over protective of his wife and Slim was out in the barn with his wife. When Slim enters it is obvious that they haven?t had a fight but they are arguing so a fight might be still to come. Slim is scowling when he enters so is annoyed. This is quite different to the normal Slim who is softly spoken and normally doesn?t speak in an aggressive tone “I?m getting goddamn sick of it”. Curley speaks in an apologetic tone to Slim and is “hung” at his elbow, even though Curley was a boxer. Curley was a boxer. Slim is a charter of unknown strength because no-one on the ranch has seen him fight so Curley is now avoiding confrontation even though he went to the barn to look for a fight. Slim now questions Curley?s manhood by saying, “If you can?t look after your own goddamn wife, what do you expect me to do about”. This questions Curley’s manhood because its saying if he can?t control his wife what can he control. Everyone now starts to insult Curley. It is like they are working as a team against him which is unusual on the ranch because normally people only care about themselves. Carlson insults Curley, “You god-damn punk” and then even Candy joins in with joy “Glove fulla Vaseline”. It seems now that Curley has lost face in front of his fellow workers.
Tension is created in this past section because Curley is now more than likely very angry, because he glares at Candy, and he is bound to lash out at someone but the reader is trying to anticipate who and when it will be. I think Candy insulting him, an old cripple, is the last straw and his temper snaps and his attitude changes from apologetic to aggressive. For example his eyes light up when he sees Lennie and he shouts at him “Come on, ya big bastard”. I think the reason Curley has picked on Lennie is because he has lost face in front of everyone and by beating the biggest guy in the room will restore his respect and show that he is someone not to mess with. Also Lennie is “..still smiling with delight at the memory of the ranch”. Tension is now at a high point because the reader is thinking will Curley beat Lennie up, will Lennie win and will George intervene. At this point Lennie is scared because he looks “helplessly” at George and tries to retreat. This is a realistic reaction for Lennie?s character, because even though he is more powerful than Curley he doesn?t want a bad thing to happen because then he won?t be able to tend the rabbits. Now Curley starts to violently slash at Lennie, while his hands remain at his sides. Tension is now created because the readers are trying to anticipate the result of the fight. George now tells Lennie “Get him” but Lennie doesn?t seem to hear him.
Lennie is now shouting “Make? um stop, George”. Then Slim even gets up to stop it but George stops him.
George continues to tell Lennie to get him. Tension is again created here because will Lennie hear him or not. Eventually Lennie grabs Curley’s hand and crushes it., “Curley?s fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line”. Now the roles have changed between Lennie and Curley, because Lennie is now aggressive and Curley is now the scared one, “Curley was white and shrunken”. Lennie is now holding onto Curley?s fist and not letting go just like he did with the girl in the red dress, this is because he is scared. George is now shouting at Lennie to let go, “Leggo his hand”. Suddenly Lennie lets go and goes to cower against the wall. Lennie doesn?t revel in his victory, “ I didn?t wanta… I didn?t wanta hurt him”. Slim and Carlson now organise taking Curley to the doctors. Tension has now dropped with Lennie letting go of Curley?s hand. Now George realises what Lennie has done, “Slim, will we get canned now?” He thinks this because Curley is the boss?s son. Tension now peaks a little at the thought of them being canned but then drops because Slim makes Curley agree to not get them canned, “But you jus? tell an? try to get this guy canned and we?ll tell ever?body, an? then will you get the laugh”. The section ends with Lennie asking whether he can still tend the rabbits!