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Why does Curley’s wife offer to let Lennie caress her hair? chapter 5  

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hardai | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 16, 2011 at 9:41 AM via web

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Why does Curley’s wife offer to let Lennie caress her hair? chapter 5

 

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slhyde | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted October 16, 2011 at 9:51 AM (Answer #1)

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Curley's wife finds Lennie in the barn alone.  Lennie is upset over the puppy he has accidentally killed and Curley's wife just wants someone to talk to her, because she is lonely and she feels as "cut off" from everyone as Crooks does due to his color.   Lennie begins to tell her that killing the puppy was an accident due to the fact that he likes to "pet soft things".  She responds "well everybody likes to do that".  She asks Lennie if he likes to feel velvet and silk, which of course he replies "yes" She then goes on to tell Lennie that her hair is very soft because she brushes it everyday.  Curley's wife then asks Lennie "if he would like to touch it and feel how soft it is"

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 16, 2011 at 10:08 AM (Answer #2)

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Curley’s wife is lonely and she thinks Lennie is sweet and harmless.

Curley’s wife is lonely and has big dreams.  She and Lennie commiserate when they are alone together and get to know one another.  She tells Lennie she knew a guy once who said she could be a movie star.

Curley’s wife laughed at him. “You’re nuts,” she said. “But you’re a kinda nice fella. Jus’ like a big baby. But a person can see kinda what you mean. When I’m doin’ my hair sometimes I jus’ set an’ stroke it ‘cause it’s so soft.” (chapter 5)

She does not expect Lennie to hurt her, because he seems nice.  She realizes he is mentally unstable, but doesn’t see him as dangerous.  Unfortunately, he accidentally breaks her neck stroking her hair.

She took Lennie’s hand and put it on her head.  “Feel right aroun’ there an’ see how soft it is.” (chapter 5)

Unfortunately, her kindness and flirtatious nature are her doom.

 

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted October 16, 2011 at 10:40 AM (Answer #3)

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Curley's wife is lonely.  Throughout the book she is looking for someone to talk to, or someone to pay her any attention.  It's clear that she's not getting this attention from her husband, so when she walks into the barn and sees Lennie talking to himself, she realizes she's found someone like herself.

“I get lonely,” she said. “You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?”

Lennie tries to avoid talking to her (after all George explicitly told him to stay away from her) but she keeps trying to talk to him.  When she starts telling her story, it's obvious that Lenny is not listening to her.  He keeps talking about the dead puppy and the farm, but she keeps on talking without giving him a chance to interject.

She went on with her story quickly, before she could be interrupted.

Finally his discussion and her story merges when he's talking about touching soft things. She's excited that they finally have something in common to talk about.  She jumps at the chance to carry on an actual conversation with someone else.

Curley’s wife laughed at him. “You’re nuts,” she said. “But you’re a kinda nice fella. Jus’ like a big baby. But a person can see kinda what you mean. When I’m doin’ my hair sometimes I jus’ set an’ stroke it ‘cause it’s so soft.” To show how she did it, she ran her fingers over the top of her head. “Some people got kinda coarse hair,” she said complacently. “Take Curley. His hair is jus’ like wire. But mine is soft and fine. ‘Course I brush it a lot. That makes it fine. Here—feel right here.” She took Lennie’s hand and put it on her head. “Feel right aroun’ there an’ see how soft it is.”

Unfortunately, this conversation leads to her death as Lennie pets her soft hair.  Sensing something is wrong, she begins to scream, and worrying he'll get in trouble Lennie accidentally breaks her neck.

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