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Is Steinbeck Preparing or Prejudicing the Reader?

By lillyo Oct 16, 2012 477 Words
Is Steinbeck preparing or prejudicing the reader?
There seems to be a contradiction in how Curley’s wife should be viewed. In his letter to Claire Luce Steinbeck says that Curley’s wife is “A nice, kind girl and not a floozy.” But then Steinbeck allows other characters to speak about her in a gossipy manor. “I think Curley’s married a … tart.” From the evidence of the letter I do not feel that Steinbeck is prejudicing the reader against Curley’s wife. I feel he is doing this to prepare the reader for the tragedy at the end of the novel and also suggesting that in some ways this was inevitable. Steinbeck is preparing us before we meet Curley’s wife. He does this, so that we have an influenced first impression of Curley’s wife and the way she acts. Steinbeck introduces Curley’s wife as being flirtatious and a floozy when he describes her appearance “full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes…” Curley’s wife has been presented to us as someone who is trying to drag attention towards her self and be looked upon as a sexual object by the other sex. Curley’s wife isn’t a “Tart” but she is the reason for the tragedy that happens at the end of the novel. “If she was to be noticed at all, it would be because someone finds her sexually desirable.” This shows she uses her sexuality as an advantage to get what she wants, because she has a husband like Curley and for the reason that she is lonely and because of the way women are viewed and treated at this time in America, it is predictable that there will be trouble. Candy speaks mockingly of Curley’s wife many times- “Jesus Christ, Curley's wife can move quiet. I guess she had a lot of practise though” for the reason that he doesn’t know her and see’s her as a representative as a specific kind of woman. Candy see’s Curley’s wife also as a “Jailbait” and a whore because she is Curley’s wife and resented and feared by the men on the ranch. Curley’s wife is the only girl on the ranch. He treats his wife like property. Steinbeck shows this sense of ownership by not giving her a name-”Curley’s wife.” She is shown as quite lonely as Lennie is the only one who will talk to her. George is only fearful of Curley’s wife due to the history Lennie has with the girl in weed, he fears something similar may happen again. So he speaks disapprovingly of Curley and his wife because he see’s both of them as a risk to his and Lennie’s dreams. The final tragedy doesn’t seem to be anyone’s fault but seems to be something which was expected to happen by the end of novel due to how the author decides on presenting the characters.

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