In "Of Mice and Men," what did Curley's wife say to Crooks?

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Curley's wife has come into the men's bunkhouse uninvited. Once there, she starts trash talking Crooks, Candy, and Lennie. Normally, Crooks is very demure around Curley's wife; as the only African-American on the ranch, he knows he could get into serious trouble if he steps out of line. But on this occasion, Crooks angrily lashes out at Curley's wife, giving her a piece of his mind.

Curley's wife's not used to being talked to like that by someone she regards as a racial inferior. She puts Crooks back in his box, so to speak, and tells him to "keep his place," meaning that as a black man he needs to show respect for a white woman. More ominously, she makes a none too subtle threat to have him lynched if he should step out of line again:

I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny.

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Curley's wife, who was angry because Crooks told her to leave his room, tells Crooks to shut up because she could have him lynched. "Of Mice and Men" was one of the few books of its time to deal with the plight of African Americans during the depression. Although Crooks is obviously good at his job and an asset to the ranch, he is still forced to live in a separate room and cannot associate with the other ranch hands, who are white. His main entertainment is reading books and so he is lonely. He tells Lennie and Curley's wife to leave him alone, not only because he feels his space has been violated, but because he is also afraid of having a white woman, especially Curley's wife, discovered in his room. Curley's wife sees this is one of the few places on the ranch where she can feel superior and let's Crooks know it.

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