Character of Curley

Candy joined the attack with joy “Glove fulla vaseline” ; he said disgustedly I didn’t wanta; Lennie cried. I didn’t wanta hurt him. Ques : Explore how the language in this extract influences your view of Curly? The language used in the extract shows Curley to be hateful, violent and angry. The extract describes a scene where by Curley is attacking Lennie, and it begins mid-attack. From the beginning of the extract it is clear that Curley is in an angry mood from the way that he “glared” at Candy when Candy joins the attack. Steinbeck uses a simile to describe Curley – “Curley stepped over like a terrier.” This comparison to a terrier works on two levels because a terrier is both small and aggressive, and Curley’s small size and aggressive nature are theme not only in the extract, but also throughout the book. When Curley speaks to Lennie, he uses obscene language and such as “bastard” and “son-of-a-bitch.”

This further gives the reader the impression that Curley is rude and aggressive, and also that he dislikes Lennie. Curley attacks Lennie, punching him in the face and stomach, but at first Lennie does not fight back or defend himself. However, Curley continues to attack him. At this point, the reader feels sympathy for Lennie and feels that Curley is the guilty aggressor. This feeling is shared by Slim, who jumps up and calls Curley a “dirty little rat.” The language used here creates a very negative portrayal of Curley, as rats are very dirty animals But then when Lennie does finally fight back, we see a different and weaker side to Curley. Lennie is much bigger and stronger than Curley. Lennie catches Curley fist with ease and Curley is left “flopping like a fish on a line.” This use of simile shows Curley to be weak and defenceless and shows that Lennie has caught him out. There is a sudden transition from Curley being violent and aggressive (like a terrier) to him being beaten up and defeated “Curley was white and shrunken by now… He stood crying.”

What do you think?

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