Curley's wife belittles several of the workers in chapter 4 when she enters Crooks's room uninvited and attempts to have a conversation with the lowly men. In chapter 4, the majority of the workers head into town, leaving Lennie
, Crooks, and Candy behind on the farm. After George
leaves the farm, Lennie ends up wandering into Crooks's private room, which is attached to the barn.
Shortly after Lennie enters Crooks's room, Candy arrives and Crooks listens as Candy and Lennie elaborate on their dream of one day owning an estate together. Initially, Crooks thinks Candy, Lennie, and George are hopeless and will never achieve their goal. However, Crooks's opinion changes once Candy explains that they already have the money.
Suddenly, Curley's wife enters Crooks's room looking for her husband. When Candy responds that Curley isn't around, Curley's wife belittles the three men by saying, "They left all the weak ones here" (38). When Curley's wife senses that she is unwelcome, she once again belittles the men by questioning their masculinity and claiming they are scared of each other. Curley's wife then asks what really happened to Curley's hand, and Candy tells her a lie to cover for Lennie. Curley's wife recognizes the men will never tell her the truth and proceeds to call them "bindle bums." Curley's wife continues to disparage the three men by saying,
Sat'iday night. Ever'body out doin' som'pin'. Ever'body! An' what am I doin'? Standin' here talkin' to a bunch of bindle stiffs—a n***** an' a dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep—an' likin' it because they ain't nobody else (38).
Curley's wife also criticizes the men for their dream and believes their goal is impossible to achieve, which infuriates Candy. Finally, Candy and Crooks defend themselves, and Curley's wife responds by threatening to have Crooks hanged. After several tense moments, Curley's wife thanks Lennie for beating up her husband and quietly leaves Crooks's room.