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Crooks and Curley's wife occupy very different social stations in the novel. Crooks is the African-American stable hand who lives on the lowest social rung at the ranch. He has the least power and respect, even among the hired ranch hands. He is old and physically broken. Curley's wife, in contrast, is white, young, and beautiful. As Curley's wife, she represents the ownership interests of the ranch. She does not have to work.
Crooks and Curley's wife, however, have some significant similarities. Both of them are isolated and lonely. Because of racial prejudices, Crooks is not allowed to live in the bunkhouse with the other hands and is not allowed to come out of his quarters in the harness room to join them except at Christmas. Curley's wife has no one on the ranch, except her cruel and controlling husband, to keep her company. She lives her days alone, cut off from human contact, with nothing to do. Because she is a woman, she is out-of-place in the man's world of the ranch, and because of her husband's jealousy, she is supposed to stay away from the men altogether.
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