Why is Curley’s wife never given a personal name?
Names have been an important facet of society for as long as Homo sapiens have existed. A name is defined as “a word or symbol used in logic to designate an entity.” In Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck teaches a lesson about the nature of human existence and shows how grim and isolated people become without hope. Steinbeck neglects to address Curley’s wife’s character by name in order to emphasize her position as a literary element and provide commentary on society in the time period during which he lived.
Curley’s wife is never named because Steinbeck wished to emphasize the ubiquitous dislike of her throughout the farm. Whilst reading the novella, it is implied that no one on the farm likes Curley’s wife. However, there isn’t necessarily a flaw in her personality from which this aversion to her stems. The characters avoid interaction with her because they fear retribution from her possessive, short-tempered husband. The men on the farm begin to foster hatred toward her because her constant need for attention puts their livelihoods in danger. The men can’t ever get too familiar with her because they are distanced by the fact that she is Curley’s wife. Steinbeck constantly reminds the readers and the characters in the book of this fact by denying her a proper name.
Second in the litany of reasons why Curley’s wife remains unnamed throughout the entire novella is that Steinbeck wishes to superimpose over the entire story the idea that she was a possession of Curley's and not an independent entity. During the course of the novella, we run across multiple instances in which Curley is angered by even the idea of his wife consorting with other men, even in a platonic manner. As previously stated, Curley would even resort to firing men if he was unpleased with the way the interacted with his wife. The reader is able to draw a parallel between the way Curley treats and acts toward his wife and the way someone...
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