Curley's wife manipulates Lennie in the barn as she tries different ways to engage him in conversation. When these methods fail, she hears Lennie sadly mutter, "Jus' my pup" and she consoles him, moving closer to him and speaking in a soothing, motherly manner. When she discovers that Lennie likes to touch soft things like velvet, she entices him into stroking her hair.
Wearing make up and with her curls all in place, Curley's wife enters the barn in her red dress and mules. Knowing the men are outside the barn playing and betting on horseshoes, she enters to see if anyone besides Crooks is inside. When she discovers Lennie in one of the stalls, she tries to engage him for lack of anyone else. Still, she seems impressed with his physical prowess as she remarks that Lennie can just break his other hand if Curley "gets tough" about her talking to him. But Lennie resists any engagement with her because he has been strictly told by George to stay away from her. However, when he bemoans the loss of his puppy, Curley's wife finds an opportunity to exercise maternal comfort to the child-like Lennie:
"Dont' you worry none. He was jus' a mutt. You can get another one easy. The whole country is fulla mutts."
In a while Lennie repeats that George will give him "hell" if he sees Lennie talking with her, and Curley's wife is angered, telling him she sees nothing wrong with her wanting to talk to someone, and she bemoans the fact that no one cares how she lives, anyway. So, she continues to talk, telling her history while the child-like Lennie strokes the dead puppy and tells her about their dream of owning rabbits and a place. As they both speak on separate subjects, Curley's wife suddenly decides to confide in Lennie something she has told no one: "I don'Â likeÂ Curley. He ain't a nice fella." ï¿½Further, she tells Lennie, "I think you're nuts," but she enjoys the fact that he, like her, loves to touch soft things, such as velvet. Then, drawing her attention to her soft hair, Curley's wife invites him to stroke her hair. While this action would be a seductive one to most men, they would still have control of themselves. But, Lennie cannot control his feelings or his strength. Consequently, he becomes so excited that he hurts Curley's wife. When she struggles and screams, Lennie tries to quiet her, but he goes too far and mortally harms her, just as he did the girl in Leeds.ï¿½