Curley’s Wife: Floozy or Innocent Girl?
Curley’s wife is a young, pretty woman, who is mistrusted by her husband, Curley. The other characters refer to her only as ‘Curley's wife,’ which is significant as she is the only character in the novel without a name. She is a simple object or possession belonging to her husband and this shows the severity of the sexual discrimination in America in 1930s. I believe Steinbeck would have thought of her not as a person but a symbol. Almost everyone on the ranch is lonely and she symbolises this. The audience would come to believe she is a weak isolated character however, the men are fearful of her. She is the wife of their boss. She has power and this power creates fear among the ranch workers. She is both in charge and screaming for attention. When we first meet Curley’s wife, the description of her suggests she is clearly overdressed for life on a ranch. ‘Her fingernails were red’ and she wore ‘red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers.’ The repetition of the red suggests danger. This could be a warning about trouble in the future. Danger creates fear and the workers on the ranch definitely fear her. She has the power to dismiss them from their jobs or even have them lynched as she is the boss’s wife. This ‘Miss Dynamite’ image is supported by the fact that George thinks she will be trouble. He calls her a ‘tramp’, ‘poison’ and tells Lennie (who has taken a shine to her) to ‘leave her be’. He sees her as a threat and doesn’t want Lennie to get involved with someone who could potentially lose them their jobs. The audience begins to dislike this woman. This highlights the prejudice against women at the time. She comes across as a confident flirt when in company due to her body language. The first description of her includes ‘..so that her body was thrown forward’. This gesture suggests that she almost throws herself at men. George called her a ‘tramp’ and her actions are beginning to...
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