The Lonliness of Curlys Wife - of Mice and Men

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Of Mice and Men
The Loneliness of Curley’s Wife

Set in 1930s America Of Mice and Men shows the apparent hardships of an America gripped in a great depression. The Wall Street crash of 1929 was making the American dream become more of a nightmare and over farming had devastated the American countryside leaving workers to migrate across the American mid west to find work. Steinbeck also worked on a ranch as a young man so the story has a personal touch from his own experiences. With unemployment at a record high and no money available to unemployed men and women, they found themselves having to travel great distances to get work to survive and keep the American dream alive. Thousand's made their way west to California away from their farmland's in the mid west, The reality of working thousands of miles away from home meant the workers would get very lonely and home sick many of them having had to leave families and loved ones behind. All the characters in the novel have certain things in common, for example working and living on a ranch coupled with dreams of a brighter future. These men actually have jobs which they are thankful for, but suffer loneliness such as being away from home in the cases of Lennie and George. Curley’s wife is subject to 1930s America where a woman’s place is in the home, an object or possession belonging to her husband. Her loneliness stems from the discontent she feels with her abusive marriage and lack of attention from her husband. Focusing on the situation Curley’s wife is in, I will discuss how her loneliness is illustrated.

We are first introduced to Curley’s wife through Candy’s description. The derogatory comments leave the reader to have an initial low opinion of the woman as she seems to be a lady who craves the company of many men. ‘I’ve seen her give slim the eye... am’ I’ve seen her give Carlson the eye.’ (pg 29) By labelling Curley's wife as a ‘tart’ she effectively is excluded from the men, thought of as being trouble. History has commonly portrayed women as being a major source of temptation and evil, St. Jerome, a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church, said: "Woman is the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word a perilous object." In the 1930s church attendance was on the rise so Christian teachings on the evils of women would have been taken quite seriously. ‘This rise in church attendance and overall religious propaganda forced the overall mindset of the country to fall on the side of faith. ‘Thus, the uninhibited and liberal world of the roaring 20’s gave way to the more purist, pious space of the 1930's.’ (Kiri Palm, 2005/2006) The men on the ranch are also scared of Curley, he is the boss’ son and as a small man likes to prove his stature by beating bigger men than himself. The truth is though that Curley's wife is controlled by her husband, who does not let her speak to any of the men on the ranch, which leads her into being lonely. Even though Curley's wife is mentioned frequently, we never know what her name is, her role seems to be simply an appendage to her more powerful husband. This just shows how people do not care for others, leading to loneliness. Curley had married his wife only two weeks previously in the story but her introduction in the book with her over the top friendliness, (giving all the guys the eye) suggests she is already looking towards other men for attention and possible infidelity to combat the loneliness she feels. Lennie takes an immediate liking to her "She’s purty" (page 33). George response to Lennie’s admiring remarks is " Listen to me, you crazy bastard “(Said fiercely) "Don't you even take a look at that bitch, I don't care what she says and what she does, I seen 'em poison before, But I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her, you leave her be." (Page 33). In this example John Steinbeck's character dialogue is directly created showing their American slang...
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