Why did Curley's wife come to see Lennie in Chapter 5 of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men?

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Lennie Small is essentially a giant man-child. He is innocent and naive and filled with guileless wonder, but he is also ignorant of his strength. Lennie's innocence is what originally draws Curley's wife to him, but his strength will be her downfall.

Curley's wife is promiscuous and pretty—she dresses in a provocative manner—and she is often called "jailbait" by other characters in the story. Her seductive nature stems from a misguided attempt to quell her own loneliness. Curley does not treat her with respect and promises to beat anyone who even speaks to her. Her only weapon is her beauty and flirtatiousness, which she uses to make her husband envious.

When she wanders into the barn and finds Lennie, she reckons he is an easy target for seduction. He has just killed a puppy and is fearful about how his friend George will take it. Curley's wife immediately dismisses Lennie's concerns about the puppy, stating that he can simply get another one, and then makes the conversation about her.

She grumbles on about how no one will talk to her and how awful her husband is. She is looking for sympathy, attention, and perhaps an opportunity to really stick it to her husband. Her eagerness for attention ultimately culminates in a dangerous physical interaction when she invites Lennie to pet her hair.

This desperation to connect with someone, even the "village idiot," makes her blind to the unsafe situation she places herself in. Lennie killed the puppy because he was too rough. Curley's wife ends up just like the puppy as she struggles to break free from Lennie's grip.

In many ways, Curley's overprotective nature is what ultimately leads to his wife's untimely death.

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In this chapter, we find Lennie alone in the barn, worried about a puppy that he has accidentally killed. He worries that his friend George will be angry with him and will not let him tend the rabbits at the place they plan to get together someday.

It is in this agitated state that Curley's wife finds Lennie. She is dressed in a very sexy manner and she says she just wants somebody to talk to. George, however, has warned Lennie not to talk to Curley's wife. George knows that she is a sexually dangerous woman.

When Lennie refuses to talk to Curley's wife, she becomes emotional and begins to tell Lennie about all of her hopes and dreams and speculating out loud on the life she could have had.

When Curley's wife learns the Lennie likes to touch soft things, she leads him to touch her hair. Unfortunately, Lennie does not know his own strength and touches her hair too roughly. When the woman starts to cry out, Lennie panics and ends up killing her.

Afterwards, Steinbeck mentions that Curley's wife had an "ache for attention."

So, at least on the surface, Curley's wife came to see Lennie because she was yearning for someone to talk to and she wanted some attention.

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