Compare how George and Lennie respond to Curley's wife. Use quotations to show their reaction, and explain them.Chapter 2 of Of Mice and Men

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Curley's wife is an Eve, a temptress.  When she appears in the doorway and asks for Curley, George makes the effort to avoid eye contact, and then hopes to dismiss her: 

George looked away from her and then back.  "He was in here a minute ago, but he went."

Rather than leaving, Curley's wife stands "so that her body was thrown forward," inviting attention. And, although she seems to not notice Lennie's leer, "she bridled a little"; that is, she draws up her chin and head in disdain for him.  Yet,

Lennie watched her, fascinated.  George said, "If I see him [Curley], I'll pass the word you was looking for him."

She smiled archly and twitched her body.  "Nobody can't blame a person for lookin'," she said.

Curley's wife understands with George's "brusque" words that although Curley may have been there, "he ain't now"; and, George's repetition of "I'll pass the word you was looking," that she is being told to leave by George, for she replies,

"Nobody can't blame a person for lookin',"

Clearly, George recognizes that Curley's wife, dressed with flashy red shoes and nails and lips is trouble, while the child-like Lennie does not understand the danger of this temptress.  When George learns of her from old Candy, he bemoans, "Looks like we was gonna have fun."  Unlike Lennie, George realizes the change in men's behaviors when a woman like Curley's wife is about.  Just as he has to warn Lennie about Curley, George must warn Lennie about Curley's wife: "a piece of jail bait.....You leave her be."

In this scene, there is much foreshadowing of the events to come.  First, George has to warn Lennie about Curley, who is antagonistic toward Lennie especially.  Then, George must caution Lennie to avoid Curley's wife, telling him to avoid "the rat-trap" that will trap him in a situation if she can.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Have you ever felt someone looking at you?

Lennie's eyes moved down over her body, and though she did not seem to be looking at Lennie she bridled a little.

Curley's wife could feel Lennie checking her out, and he couldn't control himself and keep himself from looking. Of course, Lennie doesn't even understand his body reacting to her, but it is indeed reacting.

George is a different story:

George looked away from her and then back.

George does this several times. George knows he shouldn't be checking her out, so he doesn't even when she throws herself at the men for the sake of what she would call just being friends.

George contains a great amount of self-control and knows how to respond morally to the boss' kid's wife. Lennie on the other hand struggles with impulse control.

When she is good and gone, George's response is reaffirmed when he encourages Lennie to be ever so careful and to stay completely away from this woman so the two of them don't get in trouble.