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Flat Characters In "Of Mice And Men" And "The Great Gatsby"

1544 words - 6 pages

Flat characters are an essential part of any novel because they help advance the plot and foil the other characters. Curley from Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck and Tom Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, are both examples of flat characters; the reader only sees one side to each of these characters: the callous and controlling part. Curley and Tom are both presented as flat characters and as the quintessential controlling husbands, who foil the more sensitive men in the texts. Because of their personalities, they indirectly kill those around them, and in doing so, help advance the plot.
The reader only sees the hard side of Curley and Tom, which makes them perfect illustrations of flat characters. In this way, Curley and Tom both exemplify possessive, controlling and jealous husbands who do not respect their wives. Curley is overprotective of his wife. He is worried about his wife because she has only been, “married two weeks and got the eye” (Steinbeck 28). This helps explain why Curley does not want his wife to have conversations with the other men; she has not been married long and she is already looking at them. He is paranoid that she will start talking to one of the men on the ranch and be unfaithful to him. Tom Buchanan is also a possessive and jealous husband. Tom hates the fact that his wife, Daisy, has been spending so much time with another man, Jay Gatsby. Tom says that he “‘may be old-fashioned in [his] ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit [him]. They meet all kinds of crazy fish’” (Fitzgerald 103). This illustrates Tom’s possessive tendencies, and shows that Tom is rather hypocritical, because he is having an affair with another man’s wife, so he, unlike Curley, has no excuse to be upset about his wife spending time with other men.
Curley and Tom, being flat characters, foil some of the more sensitive and intricate characters around them. Curley is, in many ways, the exact opposite of Lennie. Curley is of short stature, whereas Lennie is massive. Because Curley is so small, he has a chip on his shoulder and feels as if he needs to prove to the world how tough he is by picking fights with other, larger, men. Curley is, “like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad at ‘em because he ain’t a big guy” (Steinbeck 26), which illustrates that Curley is aggressive, and initiates fights with other men. However, he is not always successful in winning these skirmishes. Lennie, on the other hand, is immensely strong but has a gentle heart and does not want to harm anyone or anything. Yet, because Lennie’s intelligence is less than that of an average human being, and he does not realize his own strength, Lennie inadvertently hurts animals and people. Because he did not mean to, whenever Lennie harms a living creature he feels terrible about it. The reader sees many sides of Lennie and comes to understand many different aspects of...

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