Of Mice and Men

Curley’s Wife Character Analysis

The only woman on the ranch, Curley’s wife is viewed as a “tart” by the men who surround her. Young, lonely, and desirous of attention, Curley’s wife spends her days roaming around the ranch looking for someone to talk to—even though she knows that the men all around are reluctant to talk to her for fear of incurring the wrath of her jealous husband, Curley. Curley’s wife regrets the path her life has taken, and laments having missed her chance to move to Hollywood and become a movie star. To make up for her misery and loneliness, she tries to connect with other people, but finds herself thwarted at every turn. She even attempts to bond with Lennie by trying to connect with him over their shared love of soft, nice things. But when she lets Lennie stroke her hair, she becomes frightened by his strength and starts screaming, prompting Lennie to suffocate and shake her until she dies. Curley’s wife, like Lennie and Crooks, lives an existence defined by solitude and marginalization.

Curley’s Wife Quotes in Of Mice and Men

The Of Mice and Men quotes below are all either spoken by Curley’s Wife or refer to Curley’s Wife. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Broken Plans Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Of Mice and Men published in 1993.
Part 5 Quotes

“Why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.”

Related Characters: Curley’s Wife (speaker), Lennie Small, Slim
Related Symbols: Lennie’s Puppy
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
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He pawed up the hay until it partly covered her.

Related Characters: Lennie Small, Curley’s Wife
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
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Curley’s Wife Character Timeline in Of Mice and Men

The timeline below shows where the character Curley’s Wife appears in Of Mice and Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
Male Friendship Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...ago, and has been “cockier’n ever” recently in an attempt to show off for his wife. Curley’s wife, Candy whispers, has “got the eye”—in other words, she’s flirtatious, and has been... (full context)
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The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...that Curley just left the bunk house a minute ago. When Slim comes by, Curley’s wife greets him flirtatiously and says she’s trying to find Curley. Slim says she isn’t trying... (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 like... (full context)
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The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...enters the bunk house again and demands to know whether the men have seen his wife. George says she was just at the bunk house, looking for Curley. Curley asks which... (full context)
Part 3
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Minorities, Marginalization, and Scapegoating Theme Icon
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 though... (full context)
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Minorities, Marginalization, and Scapegoating Theme Icon
...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 the room and asks where Slim... (full context)
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Minorities, Marginalization, and Scapegoating Theme Icon
...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 stay... (full context)
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
Minorities, Marginalization, and Scapegoating Theme Icon
...and Curley are arguing—Slim says he’s sick of Curley constantly asking him about his own wife’s whereabouts. Carlson urges Curley to get control of his wife before he has trouble on... (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 him,... (full context)
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The American Dream Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
Crooks urges Curley’s wife to go back up to the house—he tells her they don’t want any trouble. Curley’s... (full context)
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Minorities, Marginalization, and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Curley’s wife looks at Lennie’s battered face and asks where he got his bruises. Lennie, staring into... (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 the... (full context)
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Minorities, Marginalization, and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Crooks, clearly shaken by Curley’s wife’s words, tells Lennie and Candy that they should go. Candy tries to comfort Crooks, but... (full context)
Part 5
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The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...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 hands.... (full context)
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Curley’s wife asks Lennie what he’s holding. Lennie shows her the puppy, and she is surprised to... (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 on... (full context)
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The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...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 to... (full context)
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The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
As Curley’s wife begins screaming, Lennie panics. He puts his hands over her nose and mouth to stop... (full context)
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Minorities, Marginalization, and Scapegoating Theme Icon
...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 her... (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 neither... (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 aloud... (full context)
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...to go into town to get the sheriff. Slim suggests Curley stay back with his wife’s body, but Curley is determined to go out and kill Lennie himself. (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 out... (full context)