Of Mice and Men

by: John Steinbeck

Curley

Characters Curley

Curley is the boss’s son, and because his father only appears once, Curley is the main representative in the novella of the land-owning class. Like his father, Curley wears “high-heeled boots” to mark his wealth and status, and most likely to lessen the smallness of his stature. Curley’s primary character trait is insecurity. He is constantly anxious about maintaining his dominance over the workers, and often picks fights with men twice his size. His wife explains that Curley “spends all his time sayin’ what he’s gonna do to guys he don’t like,” which proves to be the case when he tries to “throw a scare inta Slim” because he thinks Slim is flirting with his wife. When this revenge plan fails and he loses face, Curley picks a fight with the vulnerable Lennie to reassert his status. Curley’s insecurity suggests that the land-owning class is more vulnerable than one would be led to believe. The working class is stronger (represented by Lennie) and has more moral authority (embodied in Slim), but landowners like Curley maintain their dominance by creating conditions of fear and isolation for their workers.