How Does Steinbeck Present Curly's Wife

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How does Steinbeck present Curley’s wife to us as the novel develops?

Of mice and men’ is one of Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbecks most poignant. ‘ Set in the 1930s during the Great Depression it features two farm workers called George ad Lenny. The travel around together in search of work sharing a dream of a place of their own- a small ranch where they can live and work for themselves. It tells the story of how violence may erupt to destroy those dreams.

Curley’s wife- as she is known to the audience- is the only women on the ranch. Without the identity of a name she is known only by association of the man she doesn’t even like. Despite her marriage to Curley she flaunts herself around the ranch in inappropriate clothing ‘she had full rouged lips…She wore a cotton housedress and red mules,’ flirting with ranch hands and is conscious of the effect she has on men. These clothes and her behaviour I think are designed to provoke interest and attention rather than to invite intimacy. She seems preoccupied with strategies to avoid detection from her husband and manages this by continuously asking of his whereabouts. ‘Have any of you boys seen Curley?’

Like George, Lenny and later on Candy, Curley’s wife has a dream despite it being one of great contrast to theirs. She has an ambition to work in films ‘coulda been in the movies and worn nice clothes’ and this is no doubt stemmed from her desire for attention and is linked to her loneliness and insecurities on the ranch as she bitterly resents not being treated as an individual. Men make promises to her ‘he says he was gonna out me in the movies’ but she appears to lack the intelligence to realise the emptiness of their promises.

The perceptions we make of Curley’s wife are corrupted from the views of the ranch hands. Because sexuality is her only weapon she is referred to as ‘jailbait’ and ‘ a tart’ ‘Jesus what a tramp.’ George has reason to be weary of her presence especially with Lenny around and...
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