Curley's Wife

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Curley's wife plays an important role in much of the action in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

Select a Scene in which Curley's Wife Appears. Analyse Closely how Steinbeck Presents this Character at this point, and Consider Briefly this Character's Role in this Novel as a whole.

Curley's wife plays an important role in much of the action in Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." The only woman on the ranch and married to the boss's son, she is presented mainly through the eyes of the men.

We first see her when she comes into the bunkhouse where Lennie and George are talking. Steinbeck presents us with the image of her framed in the doorway, heavily made up, with "full rouged lips" and red fingernails. She also is wearing red mules with ostrich feather detail on them. The colour red is quite provocative and has connotations such as love, passion and danger. It is also significant as it could be foreshadowing future problems between Lennie and herself, because Lennie got into trouble in Weed, from trying to touch a girl wearing red. It is also made clear to the reader, that Curley's wife has spent a long time making herself up, "Her hair hung in little rolled clusters like sausages" which implies she spent time curling her hair, but the simile Steinbeck uses: "like sausages," I think reflects the male perspective, and emphasizes that she is always viewed by men. Also, the way she appears framed in the doorway makes it seem as though she is something pretty to look at, an object, and Curley's possession.

"Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off" is the description used to describe her first appearance in the novel. It suggests that she has obscured the light, and darkened the room with her presence. The image created is dark and threatening. She is also not really inside the room or out, which may be to show that she is an outsider, and does not feel like she fits in with all the men. She is alone, as she is a lot of the time....
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