Conflict is a struggle between opposing forces. There can be multiple conflicts in a story. This is the case in Of Mice and Men. In chapters three and four, there are man vs. man, man vs. self, and man vs. society conflicts. As George and Lennie interact with the workers on the ranch, sometimes conflicts arise between them.
Man vs. man is a type of conflict in which two or more characters are pitted against each other. Candy, an old man on the ranch, has a conflict with Carlson in chapter three. Candy’s friend and long-time companion is his old dog. He’s had him ever since he was a pup. Carlson tells Candy that his dog is too old and in constant pain. He says the dog isn’t doing any good to itself or anyone else. Carlson suggests that Candy should shoot his dog and take one of Slim’s new pups. After some debate, Candy unwillingly decides to let Carlson shoot and bury his dog. On page 47, Candy finally gives in and says, “Awright—take ‘im.” Later on, the men hear the shot from Carlson’s gun.
The major man vs. man conflict in chapters three and four is Lennie vs. Curley. After Curley and Slim walked in arguing about Curley’s wife, Curley saw Lennie daydreaming about his farm and thought Lennie was giggling at him. Curley got agitated and punched Lennie. Lennie became scared and tried to block Curley’s attacks but he continuously hit Lennie. When George yelled at Lennie to fight back, Lennie grabbed Curley’s hand and crushed it. On page 64, George yelled over and over again at Lennie to let go of Curley’s hand. When he finally did, the men discovered that every bone in his hand must have been broken. On page 44, Slim convinced Curley to stay quiet and tell everyone that he got his hand caught in a machine instead of maintaining that Lennie crushed his hand. This way, Curley’s father wouldn’t fire George and Lennie.
Man vs. self is a type of conflict wherein a character internally struggles with himself. George used to play jokes on Lennie because he knew that Lennie was “too dumb” to take care of himself. On page 40, George tells Slim about how he used to, “have a hell of a lot of fun with ‘im.” Eventually, George stopped doing this. One day, some men were standing near the Sacramento River. George told Lennie to jump in and he did, even though Lennie didn’t know how to swim. George and the men were able to pull him out...