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Slim nodded. "We might," he said. "If we could keep Curley in, we might, But Curley's gonna want to shoot 'im. Curley's still mad about his hand. An' s'pose they lock him up an' strap him down and put him in a cage. That ain't no good, George." (5.97)
Being locked up in a cage is no good for Lennie, but aren't all the farm hands trapped in some way? They might not be in cages, but they're stuck all the same. (Still, we're pretty sure that Steinbeck isn't suggesting that we euthanize all itinerant workers.)
Slim sat in silence for a moment. "Didn't hurt the girl none, huh?" he asked finally.
"Hell no. He just scared her. I'd be scared too, if he grabbed me. But he never hurt her. He jus' wanted to touch that red dress, like he wants to pet them pups all the time."
"He ain't mean," said Slim. "I can tell a mean guy from a mile off." (3.28-30)
And here's the question: does it matter? To be truly just, do we have to take intention into consideration—or is it the action that counts? Deep thoughts, Mr. Steinbeck.
Slim sighed. "Well, I guess we got to get him…" (5.93)
Crushing a man's hand under extreme provocation is one thing; killing a woman is another. Even Slim admits that Lennie has to be brought to some sort of justice—but not the justice that Curley wants, because that's no justice at all.