How Curley's wife is presented in Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck

Topics: Of Mice and Men, Great Depression, John Steinbeck Pages: 5 (2122 words) Published: November 24, 2013
Explore the ways one or two minor characters are presented in the text “Of Mice and Men” “I never get to talk to nobody” – Curley’s Wife
Of mice and men is a novella set in the 1930s. It is based on the theme of dreams and how they are crushed, amongst others. This book also gives an insight into the lives of men and women on ranch in America during the depression. Women pot the right to vote in the late 1920s, but during the depression, people lost interest in the women’s rights. There was a return to old attitudes and saw then either as house wives or as whores. In this novella, Steinbeck tackles many issued for women during the time. One of his minor character’s in the novella is Curley’s wife. She is a very interesting character to look at because she is presented to be unstable. She is the only character without a name. This already gives us a lot of information about her because anything without a name gives us the idea that it is a thing or an object and that Curley’s wife is part of Curley’s property and that only he has the right on her. Curley’s wife being treated as an object could also be interpreted that she has no right in the ranch. Initially Steinbeck seems sexist towards Curley’s wife and also adds on a negative image towards women in the 1930s but, as the novella continues we can see that he mainly wants to sympathise for women in the 1930s. Looking at the first descriptions of Curley’s wife, we could argue that that she is a powerful seductress but as the novella continues these interpretations will defiantly change. Even before we meet her, we as the reader build up a negative image of her through the conversation between George and Candy. Candy introduces Curley’s wife to be ‘Purty’ but ‘got the eye’ and also calls her a ‘tart’. These first impressions’ of Curley’s wife almost make us feel as though she is cheating on her husband and that she would make life difficult for others. For example she made her husband ‘cockier’ as “Candy says”. The word ‘Purty’ suggests that she is good looking. Furthermore, it could also suggest that she is not very old and perhaps a little naive. The phrase ‘got the eye’ could propose that she wants attention from other men working at the ranch. However, I think Steinbeck uses it to show that she is dangerous, and to warn other men to stay away from her because, the only women on the ranch, also being married and looking for attention is not a good idea. Due to this men start to think that Curley’s wife talking to other men is a sign of flirting, just because she is a woman. As the novel proceeds we can interpret Candy’s words into a different interpretation as we start to sympathies for Curley’s wife. This would be because we later find out the only thing Curley’s wife wants is someone to talk to. Steinbeck’s initial portrayal of Curley’s wife (calling her a tart) shows her to be a mean and seductive temptress. Alive, she could be connected to Eve from the Garden of Eden. He portraits her to bring evil into the lives of men by tempting them into ways they cannot resist. Steinbeck uses various methods to suggest that Curley’s wife was a desperate, lonely woman, who tries to attract attention from the men in order to feel as though she is wanted or needed. This can be recognised on page 53 when Curley’s wife is first seen in the novella. Her physical appearance of “full rouged lips and wide spaced eyes, heavily made-up’ as well as ‘fingernail painted red and elaborate hair, further builds on our preconceptions of her. Red, the colour of her attire and the style of her hair and makeup suggests some sexuality. She also uses suggestive and provocative body language ‘she put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward, adding on to the flimsy excuse for being there suggests that she is defiantly looking for attention. She both talks and behaves playfully. In my opinion, this could because her sexuality would be her only way of...
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