Describe Curley and his wife in Of Mice and Men. What do their actions tell you about each of them? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Curley and his wife have a very turbulent relationship in Of Mice and Men.

Curley is possessive regarding his wife.  He shows this in chapter 2, when he is repeatedly asking if anyone knows where his wife is.  He suspects many of the ranch hands when it comes to his wife, including Slim.  When talking to George, Whit suggests there might be a sense of turbulence between both husband and wife.  He speaks about how Curley is quite anxious about his wife, saying that Curley has "yella- jackets in his drawers."  At the same time, we can presume that Curley does not treat his wife well when he is with her.  When she is talking to Lennie, she tells him that Curley's "not a nice fella."  The way she says it reflects personal knowledge about what he is capable of doing.  It is evident there is not much in way of happiness between them.

Steinbeck does not depict the couple in anything resembling a healthy relationship.  Whit perceptively says that both of them are akin to two ships passing in the night:  "He spends half his time lookin’ for her, and the rest of the time she’s lookin’ for him.”  Both of them are not shown as being emotionally settled with one another.  This reflects how Curley and his wife do not find much in way of happiness in their relationship.


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