Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Chapter 2 Analysis (pages 17-37)

Curley instantly comes across as a wealthy, arrogant hothead, which sets him apart from the other workers on the farm who are humbler both in actions and in dress. Lennie’s apprehension fighting Curley, suggests that a fight will occur in the future.

Curley’s wife’s flashy attire and her seemingly flirtatious behaviors initially portray her as a “tart,” as the ranch hands call her. However, as Curley’s wife, who is clearly lonely and neglected on the ranch, continues to make appearances she becomes a somewhat sympathetic character. Further emphasizing her low status on the farm, Steinbeck never names her, instead continually referring to her only as a possession of Curley: Curley’s wife.

The motifs of survival of the fittest and the sacrifice of the weak so that the strong can survive are introduced in this chapter when Slim explains that he had to drown several of his puppies so that the others could survive on their mother’s limited milk. This story foreshadows that the weaker characters may face similar fates.

Contents