In Chapter 2, what is being learned about Curley's wife when she enters into the barn?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a great deal of foreshadowing in this chapter about Curley's wife.  The initial characterizations that are indicated between Candy's and George's discussion is that she is both beautiful and a bit on the flirtatious side.  It is through this dialogue that words like "tart" and "glove full o' Vaseline" as well as how she has "the eye," indicative of a propensity to cheat, are all introduced to us.  When she enters the barn to look for Curley, George recognizes the danger she poses to Lennie and, by extension, him.  When he hears Lennie remark that Curley's wife is "purty," George becomes incensed, demanding that he stay away from her.  We learn through this exchange that George and Lennie have had similar challenges before, reason enough why George is so sensitive to it.  It is in this where the reader understands how Curley's wife can be seen as an existential threat to Lennie and George.  The learning that emerges is that a foreshadowing of conflict emerges, the reader understanding that Curley's wife stands in pretty much mutual opposition to the hopes of George and Lennie.  These elements are gained through the second chapter, in both the narration and dialogue of the men in regards to Curley's wife.