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Lennie kills Curley's wife by shaking her so hard that her neck breaks -- remember, he is a big strong man. He does not kill her on purpose. He is only shaking her like that because he wants her to stop yelling.
She is yelling because he is holding on to her hair and won't let go. She asked him to stroke her hair but then he grabbed in a bit. When she started to complain, he panicked. He was afraid that George would not let him be part of the dream anymore if Curley's wife got mad at him.
So he's shaking her to try to protect his part in the dream. But he kills her and the dream too.
Lennie kills Curley’s wife because he ‘likes to pet soft things’.He is mourning the death of his puppy – also by his own hand – when Curley’s wife enters the barn. She tries to comfort him and allows him to stroke her hair which leads to him being overcome with he pleasure of the experience.
We have seen the inevitibility of the scenario with Lennie’s strength and Curley’s wife’s desire for affection and attention. He snaps her neck when attempting to silence her. She ‘flops like a fish’ in his arms: bitterly reminiscent of Curley’s actions earlier in the novel when Lennie crushes Curley's hand.
As he was stroking her hair she began to yell and he wanted her to be quiet as a result he covered her mouth and accidentally broke her neck ending up killing her.
Curley's wife was letting Lennie touch her curls but she didn't want him to mess it up so she kept telling him to stop grabbing it so hard. Lennie didn't know how to react to it so he didn't let go of her hair and he was afraid she would tell people so he covered her mouth but ended up breaking her neck, killing her.
He saw that Curley's wife noticed he killed the puppy and he wanted her to be quiet so he covered her mouth but accidentally ended up killing her.
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