Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What evidence is there that Curley's wife is afraid of losing her dream? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that one of the best examples of how Curley's wife is afraid of losing her dream is how she talks with Lennie.  She does not hesitate to tell him her story.  He never asks and continually resists talking to her, indicating that George is "gonna get mad," but she is so desperate for an audience that she launches into her reverie without any provocation:

And then her words tumbled out in a passion of communication, as though she hurried before her listener could be taken away. “I lived right in Salinas,” she said. “Come there when I was a kid. Well, a show come through, an’ I met one of the actors. He says I could go with that show. But my ol’ lady wouldn’t let me. She says because I was on’y fifteen. But the guy says I coulda. If I’d went, I wouldn’t be livin’ like this, you bet.

The fact that Curley's wife speaks as the "words tumbled out in a passion of communication" and she speaks in a rapid manner, "before her listener could be taken away" helps to bring out how she speaks in a manner where fear of losing her dream is evident.  Her speaking to Lennie is a way in which she can relive her dream, proving that it infact is alive and not one that is gone.  I would also point to her question to Lennie regarding her hair when she asks, "Do you like to feel velvet?"  At that moment, she speaks as if she wants to be the object of someone's affection.  She recognizes that if Lennie can see her "as velvet," it would be a chance to be seen as if she is in the "pitchers."  It is an opportunity to be admired as if she is on the screen.  Her asking Lennie about whether he would like to feel velvet is an opportunity in which she can reclaim her dream, stolen by bad luck and poor chances.  It is a moment where she can be worshipped, as if she is on screen.  It is for this reason that she invites Lennie to touch her hair, as if she has become a screen icon.  She is afraid of losing this feeling and sensation, which is why she invites Lennie to do so and, in the process, invites her own doom upon her.

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