Curley is one of ‘Of Mice and Men’s’ major characters. Although he does not appear to hold a central role, he is very important in other respects. The first of these is the way in which he treats George and Lennie, and the ranch workers in general on the ranch. Curley is the boss’ son. Therefore he acts like he is the boss himself. He orders the others around, and, although it is true that he does hold some power on the ranch, he does not hold any respect from the workers. He is nasty towards them, treating as though they are them below him, and often trying to pick fights.
Curley is disliked by pretty much everyone on the ranch, and with good reason. George immediately dislikes his hostility, and shows the same attitude in return. He himself says “I hate that kind of a guy” as soon as he has and warns Lennie to “have nothing to do with him”. Even Curley’s own wife dislikes him, sarcastically saying “swell guy, ain’t he” when told to talk to him by Candy. Furthermore, Candy, although not directly airing his dislike mentions the he is “handy. God damn handy.” The way in which Candy says this hints towards his dislike for Candy being on account of his aggressive nature and hostility, rather than simply being due to his nastiness.
His desire to fight with people all the time shows two things. Firstly, it shows inferiority complex: Curley is short, and therefore is constantly trying to be better than “big guys”. Secondly, it shows his aggression. Curley holds a fighting stance when he first encounters George and Lennie: “his arms gradually bent at the elbows and his hands closed into fists. He stiffened and went into a slight crouch.” According to Candy, Curley is an amateur boxer and is always picking fights, especially with guys who are bigger than he is. Ultimately, Curley is trying to prove his masculinity.
Another way in which Curley can be seen as trying to prove himself is by marrying a...