How is prejudice shown in the scene between Curley's wife, Candy, and Crooks in Of Mice and Men?

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

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This is a fairly powerful scene where the poison of disenfranchisement and alienation comes out in the interactions between the three characters.  On one hand, the men hold prejudice towards Curley's wife.  They see her as primarily a sexual vamp, someone who is incapable of any reflection or rumination.  They see her as someone who abuses her power because of her "womanly ways."  At the same time, they are convinced that she uses her sexuality as a weapon.  The men do not really seek to understand or to show her due respect in being a person capable of complexity.  From her end, Curley's wife looks at the men as typical "losers," poor and destitute who are incapable of deserving her respect.  She believes that Curley is old and worthless.  Yet, most of her prejudicial venom is saved for Crooks.  She threatens lynching, indicating that the men would believe her over him because of his skin color, a social condition that would relegate his voice onto the margins.  The exchange between the three of them is based on how each of them views the other with prejudice.  In constructing their dialogue in this manner, Steinbeck raises significant question as to how people act, calling attention for the need to change such interaction between people.

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