H opening physical description of Curley’s appearance, when he is first introduced. Steinbeck firstly describes Curley as ‘a thin young man with a brown face, with brown eyes and a head of tightly curled hair.’. This immediately suggests to the reader that Curley is a nasty and harsh character. The word ‘thin’ is often associated with being harsh and stern and the word ‘tightly’ not only describes Curley’s physical appearance, but also connects to his uptight personality as well, as he is very judgemental and doesn’t give anyone a chance. Curley walks into the bunkhouse wearing ‘high-heeled boots’, this aspect of his appearance reinforces his superiority on the ranch as the boss’ son, which shows that he is different to everyone else, and doesn’t fit in. Curley is at once presented as an aggressive character, which Steinbeck immediately portrays through his unfriendly and hostile behaviour towards George and Lennie in the bunkhouse, ‘His eyes passed over the new men and then he stopped.’. This quotation shows Curley acknowledging both George and Lennie as he rudely passes his eyes over them and also shows his hostility as he doesn’t introduce himself or make them feel welcome. Curley then makes Lennie feel uneasy and threatened by him as he tries to make Lennie feel uncomfortable by making him speak but at the same time makes it clear he is not to be argued with as he is the boss’ son.
Another technique Steinbeck uses which makes the reader dislike Curley is through his dialogue. We are first introduced to Curley as he aggressively charges into the bunkhouse, saying whatever he has to say, regardless of George and Candy’s conversation. The first thing Curley says as he comes into the bunkhouse is ‘Seen my old man?’ which immediately presents Curley as a rude and ignorant character as he makes no phatic talk, instead just asks a closed question. This makes us dislike Curley as he makes no effort in starting a friendly conversation which we expect as he has just met George and Lennie. Rather than introducing himself, Curley makes George and Lennie feel guilty about being late by saying: ‘’You the new guys the old man was waitin’ for?’’, this makes George and Lennie feel uneasy as he is not making any effort to make them feel welcome, and doesn’t create a very good first impression of himself. Curley then picks on Lennie and forces him to answer him, and gets quite angry when Lennie doesn’t reply. All of this shows how Curley doesn’t give anybody a chance, and causes trouble before he even gets to know them.
Steinbeck makes us dislike Curley by the way other people on the ranch talk about him. As soon as George and Lennie meet Curley they dislike him, and by their speech about him it makes us dislike Curley too. When Curley leaves the bunkhouse George says, ‘’Say, what the hell’s he got on his shoulder? Lennie didn’t do nothing to him.’’, this implies that George doesn’t like Curley’s attitude, noticing that Curley is rude and demanding. When Candy talks about Curley to George and Lennie he makes sure Curley has left and no one is listening before he starts talking, ‘The old man looked