Examine the purpose of Lennie crushing Curley's hand in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

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Lennie is a gentle giant in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. He is good-natured and simple, which sometimes leads to unintended negative consequences of his actions. In the scene where he crushes Curley's hand, Lennie does not intend to hurt Curley as severely as he does. Lennie seems almost as surprised by how badly he has harmed Curley as Curley and the other men are.

The purpose of this scene is to provide the reader a glimpse into Lenny’s naiveté and strength, as well as to foreshadow the ultimate climax of the story in which Lennie unintentionally kills Curley’s wife.

In the scene with Curley, Curley is humiliated by his fight with Slim and the other men. To save face, he baits Lennie. However, Lennie is confused by Curley’s aggression and looks “blankly” at Curley. This enrages Curley, who says,

Come on, ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me. I'll show ya who's yella.

Despite his strength, Lennie is non-confrontational. He wants to...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1017 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 8, 2020