Of Mice and Men

Curley, the son of the ranch’s boss, is a mean and power-hungry individual obsessed with securing the respect and submission of the individuals beneath him. Short in stature, nervous, and yet obsessed with proving his strength and masculinity, Curley is constantly being undermined by his flirtatious wife even as he tries harder and harder over the course of the novel to make himself seem socially and sexually dominant. The laborers on the ranch don’t respect Curley at all, and go so far as to call him a “yella” coward to his face. Still, they’re forced to support Curley in his struggles against Lennie, and follow Curley when he plans to retaliate against Lennie for killing his wife— even though he knows, on some level, that Lennie did not kill her out of any ill intent, but rather by accident.
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Curley Character Timeline in Of Mice and Men

The timeline below shows where the character Curley appears in Of Mice and Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
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...asks Candy if he has “seen [his] old man,” and Candy, addressing the man as Curley, says the boss has gone to the cook house. Curley approaches Lennie and asks if... (full context)
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Candy tells the men that Curley is the boss’s son. Candy says that “like a lot of little guys,” Curley wants... (full context)
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...at the card table and begin shuffling up a deck. Candy secretively tells George that Curley has been in rare form lately—he got married a couple weeks ago, and has been... (full context)
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...and George promises he will. After Candy leaves, George warns Lennie to be careful around Curley—if Curley and Lennie “tangle,” Lennie and George will both get the boot. Lennie insists he... (full context)
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...Her hair is curled and her fingernails are painted red. She says she’s looking for Curley—George demurely tells her without looking directly at her that Curley just left the bunk house... (full context)
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After she’s gone, George calls Curley’s wife a tramp, but Lennie insists she’s “purty.” George warns Lennie never to say anything... (full context)
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...tries to calm Lennie down by urging him to hurry and wash up for dinner. Curley enters the bunk house again and demands to know whether the men have seen his... (full context)
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...bunk house as George confides in Lennie that he himself is worried about “tangl[ing]” with Curley someday. Candy’s dog remains in the bunk house alone, raising its head for a moment... (full context)
Part 3
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After Slim and Crooks leave, Whit makes small talk with George about Curley’s wife, remarking on how “she got the eye goin’ all the time.” Whit admits that... (full context)
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...into the bunk house together. Lennie gets into bed, and Carlson begins cleaning his pistol. Curley bursts in, asking for his wife. Whit says she hasn’t come by. Curley looks around... (full context)
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...him that petting the puppies too much wouldn’t be good for them. George asks if Curley’s wife went by the barn, and Lennie says she didn’t. George again reminds Lennie to... (full context)
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Slim, Curley, Carlson, and Whit all enter the bunk house. Slim and Curley are arguing—Slim says he’s... (full context)
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George, angered by Curley’s attack on the vulnerable Lennie, urges Lennie to fight back. As Curley reaches a fist... (full context)
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Carlson takes Curley away to go to the doctor in town. George tells Lennie to wash his bloody... (full context)
Part 4
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A voice from the door startles the men. It is Curley’s wife, asking if any of them have seen Curley. Candy tells her they haven’t seen... (full context)
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Crooks urges Curley’s wife to go back up to the house—he tells her they don’t want any trouble.... (full context)
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Curley’s wife looks at Lennie’s battered face and asks where he got his bruises. Lennie, staring... (full context)
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Candy warns Curley’s wife that the men will be back soon and urges her to get up to... (full context)
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Crooks, clearly shaken by Curley’s wife’s words, tells Lennie and Candy that they should go. Candy tries to comfort Crooks,... (full context)
Part 5
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...about what George will say and do when he finds out the pup is dead, Curley’s wife comes into the barn. She approaches Lennie and asks what he has in his... (full context)
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Curley’s wife asks Lennie what he’s holding. Lennie shows her the puppy, and she is surprised... (full context)
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Lennie grows quiet and repeats that if George catches him talking to Curley’s wife, he’ll be in trouble. Curley’s wife laments the fact that none of the men... (full context)
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...know about the dead puppy, Lennie reasons, he won’t stop Lennie from tending the rabbits. Curley’s wife asks Lennie why he’s so obsessed with rabbits, and Lennie replies that he likes... (full context)
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As Curley’s wife begins screaming, Lennie panics. He puts his hands over her nose and mouth to... (full context)
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...more about some of the figuring he’s done about their piece of land. He spots Curley’s wife lying on the ground half-covered in hay, and calls out to her to chastise... (full context)
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Candy and George stare in horror at Curley’s wife’s dead body. Both of them realize that Lennie is responsible for her death, though... (full context)
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Alone with Curley’s wife’s corpse, Candy curses the “lousy tart” for messing everything up for him. After lamenting... (full context)
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...his life. Carlson runs back into the barn, shouting that Lennie has stolen his Luger. Curley suggests they use Crooks’s gun to hunt down Lennie, and orders Whit to go into... (full context)
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Slim tells Candy to stay with Curley’s wife, and Candy agrees to do so. All the other men, including George, follow Curley... (full context)
Part 6
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...his right hand, the one that pulled the trigger. The men crash through the brush. Curley sees Lennie dead on the ground and congratulates George on getting him. Slim sits down... (full context)
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...he did what he had to do. He gingerly leads George back through the brush. Curley and Carlson stare after them as they go, and Carlson asks what in the hell... (full context)