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In Chapter Two, Curley, a haughty young man, enters the bunk looking for the boss, who is his father. He behaves threateningly to Lennie. When he leaves, Candy explains that Curley, who is short, hates big guys like Lennie out of jealousy. George says that however tough Curley may be, he will be sorry if he picks a fight with Lennie, who is incredibly strong. Candy notes that Curley was recently married to a local beauty and that he has become more cocky ever since. From what we're told, Curley married her because she was flashy, and now her flashiness causes him nothing but distress. She is stuck in a loveless - and perhaps, despite Curley's bragging to the contrary, a sexless - marriage, and can be pitied for seeking other company.
Curley likely acts this way because he's a small man attempting to prove he's a big man. During the course of the novel, Curley comes to represent all petty, embittered men.