Of Mice and Men

Close Analysis of Altercation Between Crooks and Curley's Wife 10th Grade

Steinbeck makes the confrontation between Crooks and Curley's wife a shocking moment in Of Mice and Men by showing how prejudices produce strong reactions in characters: they can encourage loyalty in the face of adversity, or resentment and cruelty in those affected most by them. Just as the reader begins to forge some hope that the disadvantaged characters in the novel can form a bond, an embryonic ‘dream ranch’ in Crooks’ stable where judgment doesn’t exist, Curley’s wife casts a darkness over the moment through her dialogue.

Crooks expects cruelty from Curley's wife since he is a black man with few ‘rights,’ and he connects her to these repressed ‘rights’ immediately. He acknowledges himself as ‘colored,’ but his possession of his ‘room’ is one of few rights he has been able to protect. While he has supposed authority and command over Lennie, he is immediately defensive when faced with this relatively empowered woman. What is shocking that this man, isolated until recently, now has a freedom and strength to him and finds a misplaced confidence to ‘face’ her strongly. His protests are swatted down, however, with one imperative: ‘Listen Nigger’. Curley’s wife too perceives Crooks through his color and even uses a proper noun...

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