Through the characterization of Curley’s wife in the short novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck illustrates that malicious people, in the end, get what they deserve. At first, the reader can sense that Curley’s wife is alone, and isolated in the ranch house, however she does leave the house and lingers around the bunkhouse to flirt with the other workers on the ranch. “ ‘Well – she got the eye.’ ‘Yeah? Married two weeks and got the eye?’ ”(28) She admits that she does not even like Curley but only married him to get out of her mother’s sight. She is just using Curley, thinking she could advance and get ahead in life by doing so.
The short conversation between Curley’s wife and Crooks reveals another, unpleasant side of her. Crooks is trying to stand up for Lennie and protect his own space, but she treats him very poorly even though she was the one who was wrong to begin with. “ ‘Listen, nigger,’ ‘You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?’…‘Well, you keep your place then, nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.’ ” (80-81) She does not have any respect for anyone and this gets her into trouble again later, but with a more unfortunate outcome.
When Curley’s wife meets Lennie, everyone tells her to leave him alone. “ ‘You let this guy alone. Don’t you do no messing aroun’ with him.’ ” (80) George also tells Lennie to stay as far away from Curley’s wife as he can and Lennie remembers this. “ ‘George says I ain’t to have nothing to do with you –talk to you or nothing.’ ” (86) Curley’s wife knows that Lennie does not understand many things said to him, but this still does not stop her from trying to flirt with him. Lennie tells her that he likes to touch soft things, and she sees what Lennie did to the harmless puppy, but offers her hair to him anyway. “ ‘When I’m doin’ my hair sometimes I jus’ set an’ stroke it ‘cause it’s so soft…‘Here – feel right here.’…‘Oh! That’s nice,’ and he stroked harder.” (90-91) She knew what she was she was doing by flirting with Lennie, but she kept doing it anyways.
Curley’s wife dies because she scares Lennie and he unintentionally strangles her, however she could have avoided her own death by not talking to Lennie. Curley’s wife is not the nicest person, and therefore, got herself into trouble, getting what she deserved in the end.