Lennie is not affected by Curley’s wife’s hopes and dreams. First he is just worried about her seeing he has killed the puppy. Then he is just interested in touching her soft hair.
Curley’s wife is lonely. There are not many people on the ranch she can talk to. When she finds Lennie in the barn with a dead puppy, he tells her he is not supposed to talk to her. She scoffs at this, asking him why he follows George’s orders.
Curley’s wife confides in Lennie, probably because she realizes that he really can’t understand her. He is mentally challenged, and only interested in petting the soft puppy.
She is desperate to talk to someone. She feels trapped on the ranch. She tries to open up to Lennie, but he is “not to be drawn” (ch 5). She gets angry.
"Ain't I got a right to talk to nobody? Whatta they think I am, anyways? You're a nice guy. I don't know why I can't talk to you. I ain't doin' no harm to you." (ch 5)
Curley’s wife (who does not have a name) tells Lennie that an actor once offered to put her in a show. She says, “I coulda made somethin' of myself” (ch 5). She is not so much talking to him as talking to herself. He is not really listening. He does not understand that she is lonely. He just knows Georoge said she would cause them trouble.
She even asks him if he is listening, and he says he is. She finally decides he’s nuts, but nice—like a baby. She tells him her hair is soft, and lets him touch it. He accidentally breaks her neck.
The fact that she is dead is the only impression Curley’s wife leaves on Lennie. He is not aware of her hopes and dreams. He is only concerned with her hair being soft. He ends her dreams forever, and it is the end of his dreams too. George shoots him to prevent him from hurting anyone else.