Why Why Why

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In the book Of Mice and Men, most of the characters were named in correspondence with their physical appearance. Curley, a key secondary character, is no exception seeing as he is described as being a "thin young man with a brown face, with brown eyes and a head of tightly curled hair." On the surface Curley is a very confrontational, mean-spirited, intimidating and an aggressive young man who is very cruel to all those around him for no apparent reason. However, after thorough analysis we see that the source of his cruelty originates from two main personal insecurities that cause him to lash out. The first major issue Curley struggles with is his size. He is short and therefore referred to as “scrappy.” This really bothers him and makes him feel inferior and hence his need to prove his masculinity. To compensate for his small stature and to show his strength he is continually picking fights with larger men or with people who are smaller and weaker then himself. “Well . . . tell you what. Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He's alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he's mad at 'em because he ain't a big guy. You seen little guys like that, ain't you? Always scrappy? (2.91)” In other words, by putting other people down, or showing how he can take on someone twice his size, it makes him feel good about himself. Another reason he likes to pick on bigger men is because he has a good system down that as Candy explains, "S'pose Curley jumps a big guy an' licks him. Ever'body says what a game guy Curley is. And s'pose he does the same thing and gets licked. Then ever'body says the big guy oughtta pick on somebody his own size, and maybe they gang up on the big guy. Never did seem right to me. Seem like Curley ain't givin' nobody a chance" (2.93). So, either way, given the situation he feels like he comes out wining no matter what, which gives him a sense of power – something he craves. Another way Curley feels like he has to prove his masculinity is by marrying an attractive woman. His wife is never given a name, but by calling her "Curley’s wife," Steinbeck indicates she is his possession. He continually brags about his sexual expertise to others, and makes a big show of keeping his hand soft to caress her, but at the same time he is mean and cruel to his wife and does not pay her any special attention because to him, she is just an object and has no real value except for making him look good. Consequently, this caused her to seek attention elsewhere to ease her loneliness and dissatisfaction in her marriage, by flirting with the other ranch hands. The fact that his wife “has the eye” for the other workers, drives Curley crazy with jealousy and he is thus, constantly fretting about where she is. This shows that he clearly feels insecure in his lack of sexual power, seeing as he is not able to satisfy his wife. Therefore, he refuses to let her talk to anyone on the ranch, isolating her from everyone and setting the stage for trouble. Curley beats up any man who dares to talk to her; the only one he listens to and seems to respect is Slim. Consequently, in the book “Of Mice and Men” Curley’s primary role is to serve as a stumbling block for Lennie; one of the main characters, and to be one of the factors that lead to his eventual death. He is extremely instrumental in the storyline and he represents all that is evil in the world, in other words the “bad guy” of the novel. Curley picks fights with Lennie and causes trouble for him because he's big and dumb, and thus an ideal candidate for Curley to abuse, due to his previously mentioned insecurities. However, the turning point that needs to be noted is that when Lennie fights back, he smashes Curley's hand, breaking every bone. Curley whimpers like a baby and cries helplessly with the pain. This seriously injures Curley’s pride and sense of masculinity so he is very angry with Lennie and will take any opportunity he can get to prove himself and...
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