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Yes, living on the ranch affects people. Many of the characters long for friendship and compassion; they live in fear of each other. As Carlson’s unsentimental shooting of Candy’s dog makes clear, in the Great Depression the useless, old, or weak were inevitably destroyed as the strong and useful fought for survival. Everyone on the ranch constantly tries to look strong, especially if they feel weak. The fear of the weak being overrun by the strong explains why Curley likes to fight larger men, why
Crooks tells Lennie that George is going to abandon him,
and why Curley’s wife threatens to have Crooks lynched.
Each character tries to appear strong by asserting power over
another. The fear of the strong also explains why most of the
other characters in Of Mice and Men can’t comprehend Lennie
and George’s friendship. A human relationship devoid of power
dynamics simply makes no sense to the other characters, all of
whom assume they’re in a fight for survival.