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Curleys Wife

By meganmatthews Jan 22, 2012 586 Words
Exam Practice – C.A.T On Curley’s Wife.

In this essay, I will explain the character of Curley’s wife having looked at, we can see John Steinbeck portrays Curley’s wife as being a ‘tart’ but also a nice woman. She is a natural flirt as throughout the novel she continues to talk to all the other men on the farm, but when she dies, we see her as an innocent woman. Steinbeck uses many different techniques to present Curley’s wife such as colour imagery, appearance, metaphors and similes in the early stages of the novel. The effect of these techniques is that the reader creates a mental image of Curley’s wife even before she even enters the novel.

Curley’s wife gives off the impression she is a ‘tart’ and a ‘floozy’ throughout the novel. When readers first read about her, her body language is provocative when she leans against a wall in the barn. “Oh! She put her hands behind e=ger back and leaned against the door frame so her body was thrown forward, you’re the new fellas that just come, ain’t ya?”, being the only woman on the farm, this reveals her need to be noticed and admired by the men. She talks very confidently and flirtatiously to George and Lennie even though they have just arrived on the farm and she doesn’t know them. She pretends to be looking for her husband and when told that he is not there Steinbeck writes “If he ain’t, I guess I better look some place else" she said playfully.‟ This shows her boredom in marriage with Curley and that she just want attention from the men on the farm.

Curley’s Wife is first presented to us through the dialogue of ranch-hand Candy, when he describes her to George. Candy’s opinion is very sexist towards Curley’s wife, you only hear the men’s opinion on Curley’s Wife. He also says “Curley’s married . . . a tart” which shows how Steinbeck wants to present Curley’s wife which is in a very crude manner. He uses expressions such as “she got the eye” and goes on to describe her as looking at other men, before eventually calling her a ‘tart’. The word “tart” which shows the impression and effect Curley’s wife has on other men on the ranch. Steinbeck wanted to use this effect because he wants to show the reader the immediate impression the men have about Curley’s wife. This further supports my point that Steinbeck presents Curley’s wife in a negative manner. The effect of this is that the reader has judge Curley’s Wife without her speaking in the novel.

One the one hand, Steinbeck uses the colour red to describe Curley’s wife which explores ideas of danger, strong and bold. The quote “ She had full rouged lips..her fingernails red..she wore a cotton house dress and red mules of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers”. This shows how she makes the effort and dresses to attract sexual attraction from the men on the farm which makes readers think she’s a ‘tart’. On the other hand, Curley’s Wife’s appearance could be seen as naive and youthful desire to be found attractive. Red is bright and has an element of happiness to it. Therefore she might not be wearing the colour red to stand out and to look like a ‘tart’.

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