In the novella, Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, the swamper says, "Seems like Curley ain't givin' nobody a chance." What do these words mean? John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Candy, the old swamper, defines Curley as a bully with his words from Chapter 2 of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.  Prior to saying these words, Candy tells George that the son of the boss, who has stopped at the doorway of the bunkhouse and asked if George and Lennie are the new guys, is  a lightweight boxer and is "handy."  Candy continues to explain that Candy is much like other short men who feel that they have to prove their manly prowess by being pugnacious.  Candy elaborates,

Never did seem right to me.  S'pose Curley jumps a big guy an'licks him.  Ever'body says what a game guy Curley is.  And s'pose he does the same thing and gets licked.  then ever'body says the big guy ougtta pick somebody his own size, and maybe they gang upon the big guy.  Never did seem right to me.

Candy's remarks that Curley does not give anyone a chance is explained by this passage since Curley wins whether he is beaten or not. If he is knocked down and hurt, then Curley can have the opponent fired because he is the son of the boss; or, if he defeats a larger opponent, men will praise him for challenging someone so much larger than he.