Of Mice and Men

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How does Steinbeck present attitudes to women in the society in which the novel is set?

Of mice and men is set in 1930’s America. During the time period it was a very much considered that women were merely seen as sex objects and that men were the dominant and more superior gender. Throughout the novella we see how Curley’s wife: one of the only women on the ranch is treated and disrespected by the other workers.
Steinbeck compares the loneliness of Candy, Crooks and Curley’s wife with the friendship of George and Lennie. The author also uses Curley’s wife’s vulnerability to show how everyone one on the ranch is vulnerable with the exception of Slim. Lennie is vulnerable because he has the mind of a child so is amoral. George is also vulnerable because he is constantly tied to Lennie which could mean him getting into trouble easily. George constantly pesters Lennie into saying ‘if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cat house all night…’ However due to Lennie's guilt trap he makes George feel as if he has crossed the line. Instead Lennie tells George he would go and live in a cave which makes George cautious for Lennie to come back.

The theme of ‘Of mice and men’ is stated early in the novel, when Lennie persuades George to tell him again about their ‘dream farm’. As an alternative to the dream is the general reality for most itinerant workers. When the end of the month comes the men on the ranch will take there ‘fifty bucks’ into town and blow their money on prostitutes and alcohol. Steinbeck portrays women in a negative aspect by including them in cat houses. With the exception of Curley’s wife, there are no women on the ranch. We develop a clear understanding that Curley’s wife is extremely lonely. I feel that the theme of loneliness is presented very pessimistically. All three

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