Why did Curley's wife come to the barn in Of Mice and Men?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Curley's wife, in John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men, appears in three different scenes. In chapter two she comes to the bunkhouse door and meets George and Lennie. In chapter four she comes into Crooks's room in the barn where Crooks, Lennie and Candy have gathered and are talking about the dream of the farm. In both chapters she says she is looking for Curley, but the reader might assume she is simply lonely and wants to talk to somebody. She seems to take a particular liking to Lennie. She comments about the bruises on his face and asks how Curley got his hand broken. She makes a flirtatious remark to Lennie about the rabbits he is obsessed with. She says,

“Well, if that’s all you want, I might get a couple rabbits myself.” 

Finally, she appears in chapter five. She has come into the barn and while Steinbeck never overtly mentions why, the reader should assume she has seen Lennie go into the barn and has followed him. Most of the men on the ranch are outside playing horseshoes but Lennie is in the barn with his dead puppy. This time, Curley's wife doesn't mention looking for Curley. She wants to talk to Lennie. She says,

"Why can’t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.” 

Just as Crooks had done in chapter four, she pours her heart out to Lennie. She talks about being in "pitchers", going out dancing and the circumstances of her meeting and marrying Curley. She seems to like Lennie, or at least she likes the attention, and they begin their discussion of "petting soft things":

“You’re nuts,” she said. “But you’re a kinda nice fella. Jus’ like a big baby. But a person can see kinda what you mean. When I’m doin’ my hair sometimes I jus’ set an’ stroke it ‘cause it’s so soft.”

Of course, this discussion leads to tragedy and the barn is the last place Curley's wife ever goes. 

 
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial