As the only present female character in the story, Steinbeck’s ideas and conceptualizations involving women are expressed through Curley’s wife. She is portrayed as a tramp and a temptress, always looking to cause some trouble with her sexuality. Her destructiveness is apparent through the aggression she causes in Curley, as though it is all her fault. It may be argued that Steinbeck’s portrayal of women in the novella is sexist, limited, and misogynistic, as the female characters mentioned in the book are presented as wives, prostitutes, or maternal figures that are no longer alive. At first, Curley’s wife is presented rather simplistically as a no-good tramp that is only out to get attention and cause trouble. It becomes apparent later in the book that she is, in fact, a more dynamic character who acts out of dissatisfaction with most aspects of her life. This is revealed initially through a conversation she has with Lennie, Crooks, and Candy in the stable, which serves to illuminate to the reader her vulnerability. This vulnerability is further revealed and expanded upon through the conversation she has with Lennie immediately prior to her demise at the hands of Lennie. In this conversation, she admits her dreams of being a movie star, revealing her humanity and complexity as a female character beyond the makeup and feathered shoes. The story presents a bleak conceptualization of the motivations behind the actions of humanity, which is supported by Curley’s wife’s behavior toward others in the story. In particular, she compensates for her vulnerability by trying to build herself up stronger by exploiting the weaknesses in others, such as the color of Crooks’ skin and the mental disability of Lennie. Read full document
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