Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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In Of Mice and Men, Lennie strangled Curley's wife and killed her.  Who was really responsible for her death, Lennie or Curley's wife?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One could argue that Lennie is more responsible for the death of Curley's wife. Although Curley's wife initiated the interaction by starting a conversation with Lennie and allowed him to pet her hair, she was completely unaware of his history and had no idea that he lacked self-control.

Also, one cannot blame Curley's wife for forcing a conversation with Lennie because of her loneliness on the farm. Curley's wife is portrayed as a lonely, depressed woman, who left her dream of becoming an actress to live a secure life with a rather ornery man. Despite the fact that Lennie rebuffs Curley's wife's initial attempts at having a conversation, one cannot blame Curley's wife for searching for companionship. When she discovers Lennie's affinity for petting soft things, she does not take into account Lennie's strength or inability to control his emotions, which is not her fault.

During their interaction, Lennie is the perpetrator, who refuses to let go of Curley's wife's hair despite her pleas. The...

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