The novel is a microcosm, a cross section of society reflecting the prejudice. Blacks had no rights in America; they were seen as ‘nobody’s. Women too had very few rights. The itinerant workers ended to be loners. All these people were forced into loneliness and isolation; they each had a dream in hope of a better life often referred to at the time as ‘The American Dream’.
Central to Steinbeck’s novel is Curley’s Wife and her importance in the novel is of how she revolves around the novels main themes and events. Curley’s Wife is excluded for being female, she is often found in search for companionship on the ranch as her newly found marriage does not give her the affection she desires, as she states to Lennie “I don’t like Curley he aint a nice fella.” Because of this she often tries to interact with the other men although she is never allowed as they think a “ranch aint no place for a girl.” Carlson also states of how a “women should be at home where she belongs.” The fact that she is excluded from a place of physical work is indicative of how women were portrayed during the 1930’s. They were not expected to do work, but instead stay at home and raise a family. Curley’ wife feels insecure because of the loneliness she feels and it is made clear she is frustrated with this situation, “none of them care how I gotta live.”
Throughout the novel as similar to Crooks, Curley’s Wife is not named. This highlights her lack of identity on the ranch and how she is viewed as the property of her husband. As a result of her insecurities, she tries to combat her loneliness and isolation by resorting to violence. Her vicious attacks on Crooks to getting him “strung up on a tree” and the attacks on Lennie due to his mental disability show how loneliness can not only change a person, but destroy them. All of the emotions Curley’s Wife encounters come as a result of the loneliness she feels, and these clearly represent of what a terrifying character she is.
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