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How does Steinbeck Present the Characte

By Jessicapanda2 Dec 08, 2014 2268 Words
How does Steinbeck Present the Character of Curley’s Wife and Whether She is a Victim, Herself or a Villian or to Blame for the Unfortunate Outcome of the Storyline? During the 1930s when Stienbeck wrote this novel the citizens of America were going through things like the Great Depression which was originally known as the Wall Street Crash. This made many businesses close down and made many people lose their jobs and have to try and find work, to do this they ended up travelling around and becoming what’s called “itinerant workers/ bindlestiffs” as Curley’s Wife calls them. There is also something called the dust bowl which had a massive impact on the economic climate too, this means that many places within America was dry and there was not enough water going into the ground and in the atmosphere, this alone made staying in business hard because the ground was not soft enough to grow many crops let alone anything else. During this it made many people look for someone to blame many of whom turned to the coloured people and they eventually were becoming racist towards them, many black people tried to either take a stand and others who knew that they couldn’t even do this like Crooks for example, he is black and he wasn’t allowed to interact with the white people very often and when he did he was bitter because he knew they weren’t alone like he was. Along with the racism they also had the segregation which means that the black people were not allowed anywhere that a white person is because if a white person is there then the black people had to wait until the white person is finished with whatever they are doing. In the 1930s women were still treated very much like objects or possession’s which has not changed from 400 years ago, so this is similar to that because she is unable to speak out or talk to anyone because she wasn’t trusted enough to talk to them. Which in turn made things harder for her to adjust to the life on the ranch this also made interaction really hard because no one will let her have that experience of talking to men because they were afraid of Curley’s habits of beating people up. Also in the 1930s women were not considered as equal to men yet and still they are not in America because they are still very much stuck in their way’s. When Stienbeck wrote this book in 1937, he wrote what he saw which many people didn’t like because they wanted to be oblivious to the things that they were doing to people. Many people even tried to stop the book from getting published. Of Mice and Men is one of the many books that Stienbeck wrote and the specific character that we are looking and is Curley’s Wife. When the reader first gets introduced to Curley’s Wife we get a very prejudiced view of her because of Candy’s comments, “I think Curley married a…tart” shows exactly what he thinks of her and what Stienbeck wants the reader to think too. Candy also describes her as “she got the eye” meaning that even being married two weeks she already feels the need to look at other men. Candy then takes the attention that he got on her and describes who’s she has given the eye to for example, Slim, Carlson, etc. When men meet her they are already told this and they then become scared and wary of her because they don’t want to lose their jobs because her husband is the bosses son. All through the book she is called trouble because of the way she acts and behaves, which just solidifies the reason men call her this. When we first meet her she is dressed in “red” which has connotation’s of sex, desire, danger, death, rage, etc. Steinbeck does this to try and paint her in more of a bad light because he wants us to believe the way that he has painted her and to show what she is really like. When Steinbeck also describes the women in Weed in red we get the sense that he is trying to use this to foreshadow future events because the girl in Weed got touched by Lennie they also encountered Curley’s Wife in red too which sort of told us that something was going to happen. Steinbeck also describes her as being “heavily made up” which can be for one of two reasons that I can think of these are either she is getting abused by Curley who is already portrayed as a bully or she is trying to make herself look like some of the actresses in that time. Personally I think that both is a possibility but I lean more towards the actress because many teenagers try and imagine their dreams are coming true by dressing in the way that their dream is. Which is what Curley’s Wife might have been trying to do which makes this easier on her because her dream is that she wants to be an actress in Hollywood and that her dream is just within reach when in reality it is all the way in Hollywood. I also believe that with the way that Curley is and how she describes him sarcastically “Yeah I gotta husban’ swell guy aint ‘e” which just shows me that he is not the nicest guy, it also shows me that he is a bully and I wouldn’t put it past him if he abuses her. We then meet her for the first time and she is “(Lookin’ for Curley)” which is obviously a ploy to get someone to talk to her and maybe so she can avoid Curley as well. Also the other reason that I think that she may be going towards the actress dream is because of the way that she always talks down to people and how she talks in a “nasal and brittle” voice but the other reason for this is could be that Curley has broken her nose or that she has been running away from somewhere. Her behaviour to the other people sometimes borders on nasty and makes people very cross with her. For example, the way that she threatens Crooks is where I begin to lose patience with her because he was just trying to get her away from his property because he knew she could get him fired and he just wanted her to realise that his room is not where she should be also because of the segregation and it being that they had to be in separate rooms and to not really talk to her, also this is something that she just doesn’t understand because she goes to talk to him anyway. She just thinks that he is trying to get rid of her and the way that he is always trying to tell her to go home and talk to her husband but they both know that her husband is in the “cathouse” not home she then tells them that she is “lonely” which they don’t care about because they have a dream and a possible ranch to go to when they are finished here also in them days if a lady said she was lonely they were expected to just go else where for attention. I also believe that she has some nice qualities, for example when she is talking to Lennie and she is talking on the same wavelength or level as him which can be seen as a kind of kinship between the two. I also think that she is kind of childlike because she wants the only thing that any child wants and that is attention, companionship and love which Lennie already gets from George but Curley’s Wife does not get that from anyone. This is the sort of behaviour that always causes tension in the scene and when she arrives on the scene or appears the next time in the book the men are always getting tenser and tenser when eventualy when she dies Candy explodes at her because he is so mad at her for taking away his dream and the way that she has caused so much trouble for Lennie. Every time that we meet her she constantly cuts off the light which can be used in many different theories because it can mean “death” which is what happens to her, her dreams and the other characters in the books dreams. “ the end” which could mean that the light is no more. “cold” because when the sun is gone it can get cold. There are so many different things that this can mean and I only mentioned a few of them. Stienbeck always describes her in so much detail all the way through the novella even to the point that she dies. When she dies she is almost described as an angel and nothing like the person that we meet and interact with through the novella. He describes her hair like sausages, I mean come on who likes having their hair described in that way, sausages is not complimentary at all it is more like insulting her and the way that she is. He also describes her as “she was pretty and simple” which in a way is something that he doesn’t realistically show us throughout the novella and there is the problem of him always insulting her which also suggests that she is not a nice person but in this particular part she is almost changed a new simple kind person that is not any of the things that he described her like before. He also describes her as a very doll-like person because of the way that he always presents her and the way that she is always neat as a pin type of person. He also showed how much trouble she actually cause by making Candy stand there almost yelling at her “you done it” because he was not happy with her for wrecking his dream of actually having someone who gave a damn about him, also there was the “you goddamn tramp” part of this section which just shows how much trouble he knew she was. The type of language that he used to describe her was almost like that of describing a devil or a demon many of whom is always or most of the time is described as having red somewhere on them. Or the way that he would describe her posture and how she would hold herself also showed almost a sense of brash confidence and self-awareness, so when they describe her as a tart or a tramp them kind of people would be so confident and know how to seduce people with their bodies and use this as a weapon, which is what she was doing when he described her as “she put her hand… door frame so that her body was thrown forward” which in them days was probably considered a tarty type thing to do this is also stereotyping because of the way that they believed tramps and tarts were like. The way that this novella was written was exactly how he saw things in that time and he was trying to show other people what they were doing which made the government try and close this down and stop it from getting published but unfortunately he still went ahead and did it. This book was also one of the bestsellers at the time and made most people see what they were doing was wrong so they had tried to change the way that they were behaving towards them. Unfortunately they didn’t change it that much because even now coloured people are still getting treated this way. My view on this is that she caused most of this herself even if she didn’t mean to or know what she was doing, she should have realised that they would not talk to her so why was she trying to threaten them and attempted bluffing to them saying that she would get them fired when in reality they knew what she was doing and still said no to talking to her. Although I agree that some parts I feel sorry for her because of the way that she is treated and the way that she got played and decided to jump straight into something that she could have avoided. So I think that she is not a villain because that is too strong a word for her but she is also not necessarily a victim either because I think she was just being a human being because who wants to be on their own all the time and be bored out of their skull, the answer to that is no-one, so why shouldn’t she go and talk to anyone? Why shouldn’t she be able to have friends? Why shouldn’t she be able to go anywhere? This just goes to show how unreasonable the way the 1930s are and how she was treated. I also think that if she didn’t jump into something at the blink of an eye then she could have the chance to experience happiness but of course if she waited then we wouldn’t have a character to help the story along so I think that she is vital to the storyline too.

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