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And when they were gone, Candy squatted down in the hay and watched the face of Curley's wife. "Poor bastard," he said softly. (5.112)
Not "poor girl," but "poor bastard." We get the feeling that Candy knows who the real victim is here: not Curley's wife, who he thinks brought it on herself, but poor, dumb, innocent Lennie.
"Well, Curley's pretty handy," the swamper said skeptically. "Never did seem right to me. S'pose Curley jumps a big guy an' licks him. Ever'body says what a game guy Curley is. And s'pose he does the same thing and gets licked. Then ever'body says the big guy oughtta pick on somebody his own size, and maybe they gang up on the big guy. Never did seem right to me. Seem like Curley ain't givin' nobody a chance." (2.93)
Candy may not be too smart, but he's smart enough to get it: Curley's gaming the system. It may not be very fair or just for someone like Lennie to pound on a little guy like Curley—but it's also not fair of Curley to provoke Lennie, knowing that Lennie's going to get in trouble for not picking on someone his own size.
"I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog." (3.234)
In the (paraphrased) words of George R. R. Martin, you'd better not condemn someone to death unless you're willing to carry out the execution. It's not very manly, and it's not very just.