Curley is a small man when it comes to appearance and he's the son of the ranch boss. He comes across as being very short tempered and even developed something of an inferiority complex. As a result of this Curley is very agressive and almost everything concludes to violence when he's around, always brought on by himself. He was previouly a boxer but he clearly fights unfairly. Curley uses violence to emphasise his masculinity to both the other ranch hands and his wife, and take advantage of anybody who he thinks is weak, hence why the mentally-slow Lennie is his usual target.
Curley took a strong dislike upon Lennie the moment that they met, simply because Lennie was bigger than him. Curley doesn't like feeling belittled so constantly feels the need to aggresively harm anybody whom he feels threatened by and almost control them, this quote said by Candy backs this up: "Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big ...view middle of the document...
In a strange way, Curley and his wife's relationship is like that of a parent and child, like George and Lennie's. Curley being the obsessively over-caring parent constantly keeping an eye on his child.
It's made obvious that even the author doesn't sympathise with Curley's character and he doesn't seem to develop as a person throughout the novel. Whilst everyone else on the ranch, and America at the time, is struggling due to the Depression Curley seems careless, wreckless, continues to pick fights and make people feel even worse. It's almost as if he's completely outside of the Economic Struggle, which in fact suggests that Curley's a lonely character, and when in contrast with all the other characters his cruelty is emphasised. Due to this Economic Struggle having getting a job was extremely difficult, to have one and be wealthy was classed as the 'American Dream'.
As I mentioned before, Curley fights unfairly. This unfairness relates to how Curley would definately become successful and wealthy and live the America Dream, unlike many other Americans at the time, because he already has a job and since it's his Dad's ranch he will inherit it, whereas the kinder characters in then novel have their dreams crushed.
In a way, Curley is a symbol of broken dreams and no light at the end of the tunnel for some characters. We get this idea because at one point during the novel Curley is standing in a doorway and blocking the light from getting into the room. The dreams that he's in the way of are mainly George's, Lennie's and Candy's, and everytime something good happens to them, he comes along and ruins things for them.
Curley clearly having a hopeful future ahead of him and George and Lennie clearly not adds to the occasional theme of opposites, as it should actually be the kind characters with a hopeful future ahead of them not the cruel character.
At many points in the novel Curley is described as 'handy', this description relates to how Curley has his hand injured by Lennie.