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The swamper considered… "Well . . . tell you what. Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad at ‘em because he ain’t a big guy. You seen little guys like that, ain’t you? Always scrappy?" (2.91)
And here we are: Curley, who's makes his weakness into a strength. He's not "strong as a bull" like Lennie, but he's "scrappy." And in a match between slow, brute strength and scrappy wiliness, our money's on the wily one.
"Whyn't you get Candy to shoot his old dog and give him one of the pups to raise up? I can smell that dog a mile away. Got no teeth, damn near blind, can't eat. Candy feeds him milk. He can't chew nothing else." (2.193)
Carlson is awfully quick to suggest shooting Candy's dog. We wonder if Carlson will be so enthusiastic about being shot when he's the one with no teeth and no eyesight? (Actually, given the way life is on the ranch, he just might be.)
Candy looked a long time at Slim to try to find some reversal. And Slim gave him none. At last Candy said softly and hopelessly, "Awright—take 'im." He did not look down at the dog at all. He lay back on his bunk and crossed his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling. (3.85)
Poor Candy. We wish we could respect Candy a little more, because he seems like a genuinely nice guy who's had a bad life. But he's so weak that he can't even manage to shoot his own dog—not very manly.