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Obviously, she is female, he is male. He is black, she is white. Although these are simplistic, they are worth noting because these are dramatic differences for the 1930s era. Today, men and women cross gender lines in terms of stereotypical roles and expectations. The same is true culturally for blacks and whites. Often, stereotypical assumptions can no longer be assumed because blacks and whites has assimilated into each others' previously singular cultural norms.
Curley's wife is put on a sort of spotlight and given value because she is the woman of Curley's affection and worth. She is given the attention of the men because they dare not cross paths with her for fear that they will be accused of flirting with her. She is treaated like an object to be possessed.
Crooks on the other hand has worth and value for other reasons and at least has a name. Crooks is identified by his role on the farm. For him, we see his permanent status in the items he has gathered over time. He has his own room which could further give him importance, but he views it as a way he is separated from the others.
Both Crooks and Curley's wife are intended to be permanent residents on the ranch. This is different than many of the other characters who travel from ranch to ranch for work. Both are outside the majority of the characters for one reason or another. Both are extremely lonely because of their differences from the rest of the group. They both long for friendship, but alas, no one will have them. They both get the attention of Lennie, a central character who demonstrates more humanity than the rest of the characters. This attention serves to fulfill their longings momentarily.
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