Despite Steinbeck’s rendering, Curley’s wife emerges as a relatively complex and interesting character. Although her purpose is rather simple in the book’s opening pages—she is the “tramp,” “tart,” and “bitch” that threatens to destroy male happiness and longevity—her appearances later in the novella become more complex. When she confronts Lennie, Candy, and Crooks in the stable, she admits to feeling a kind of shameless dissatisfaction with her life. Her vulnerability at this moment and later—when she admits to Lennie her dream of becoming a movie star—makes her utterly human and much more interesting than the stereotypical vixen in fancy red shoes. However, it also reinforces the novella’s grim worldview. In her moment of greatest vulnerability, Curley’s wife seeks out even greater weaknesses in others, preying upon Lennie’s mental handicap, Candy’s debilitating age, and the color of Crooks’s skin in order to steel herself against harm.
While she is lonely, very much like the other characters, she also exploits her power as the Boss' son's wife to threaten others. She seeks company from the other ranch men by constantly coming to the bunk house or the barn under the pretence of looking for Curley when ironically, she wants to get away from him.
She's very young, and Steinbeck emphasises this by continuously referring to her as a "girl" which suggests to us that she may only be a teenager or young adult