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In "Of Mice and Men," the ranch owner's son Curley has no friends as a result of his wielding power over the workers who live in the ranch house. At the end of the third section when Curley comes around in search of his wayward wife, the other men lash out angrily at him.
'Why'n't you tell her to stay the hell home where she belongs?' said carlson....You tried to throw a scare into Slim, an' you couldn't make it stick....You're yella as a frog belly...You come for me, an' I'lll kick your ---head off.'
Because of this jealousy of his wife and his belligerence towards the men, Curley is isolated from all of the men. In a different way, Crooks, the "negro stable buck" is isolated, too. But, he is isolated through the power of a racial divide, not a social one. Made to live in the harness room alone, Crooks feels cut off from everyone. At the beginning of the fourth section, when Lennie innocently enters the room, Crooks feels resentment:
You got no right to come in my room....Nobody got any right in her but me.
Then, when Lennie unknowingly questions Crooks, the stable hand enjoys his new found power and questions Lennie about George, taunting him; his face "lighted with pleasure in his torture: "Nobody can't tell what a guy'll do."
In the Naturalistic setting of Steinbeck's novel, the characters are often rendered helpless by their isolation;yet, even at their weakest, they ironically seek to destroy the other. So, the paradox that Steinbeck creates in "Of Mice and Men" is that the strength to oppress others is itself born of weakness.
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