Explore some of the ways in which Steinbeck presents different characters in the novel!
Steinbeck manages to explore the impact of the main causes of disadvantage not only on a ranch but across America in the 1930’s. He uses stark, realistic characters to explore social problems and constraints in a dark period of American history. Three such characters are the figures of Curley’s wife, “old man” Candy and Crooks. The social standing of these three characters is extremely low due to circumstances outside of their influence (Curley’s wife’s gender, Crooks’ colour and Candy’s age).
Curley’s wife is perhaps the most complex and ambivalent character in the novel. She is a pivotal character in the book, yet her personality is never fully explained. The most obvious aspect about her is the fact that she is never given a real name in the book and is only referred to a Curley’s wife. This is to highlight that she is seen as a possession of her paranoid and hypocritical husband. When we first meet her in the novel, she seems promiscuous in her attitude towards George and Lennie, who have only just arrived on the ranch. She throws her body forward in an effort to show off the shape of her body and, although pretending not to notice, she bridles when Lennie looks at her. In this first appearance, she is also wearing large quantities of the colour red. “She had full, rouged lips ... Her fingernails were red ... She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which there were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers.” Red is a colour to signify many things, things such as passion, warning, red light districts (prostitutes) etc. This scene conveys the sense that Curley’s wife is a woman of dubious morality. However, before we even meet Curley’s wife, we are told by Candy that she is a “tart” and has “got the eye” for everyone, meaning that she is forever flirting with men and flouting her sexuality. In fact, the character of Whit says “I bet she even gives...
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