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Curleys Wife

Introduction section of Curleys wife

She is newly married to Curley. Curleys has no name on this novel because she wants
recognition, attention, her own identity, and her own life. To emphasise how she has none of
these things, Steinbeck doesnt even give her a name. She is just someones wife. This shows
that there is no identity of her own. Without him she would be nothing. She is young, pretty,
wears attractive clothes and locks her hair. She seems flirtatious and is always hanging around
the bunk-house. She is lonely - there are no other women to talk to and Curley is not really
interested in her. The role of Curley's wife represents the loneliness of all the characters on the
ranch. Even though she has a husband, she feels empty inside and feels very alone which
suggests why she always hangs around the other men at the ranch. She doesn't necessarily try
to talk to the men to start trouble but she just wants someone to talk to.
Description of Curleys wife in terms of her appearance
In the Steinbecks novel OF MICE AND MEN he uses description to present Curleys wife in
different ways. Curleys wife doesnt have a name in this novel. When he described her as a
girl, it shows that she is too young to be married. As well as that he described her as heavily
made up this makes the reader think her appearance seems to be out of place on the farm.
Steinbeck wants us to realise that she is not the part of the workers on the ranch and is an
outside looking in? this makes the reader think she dislike, unpopular and wants to be friendly
with them. Additionally the writer explained that appearance is important to Curleys wife and
she wants to look pretty. This makes the reader consider that she doesnt have friends and she
is lonely. Also she is trying to get attention making herself good-looking. Red is pretty much the
only colour mentioned on the ranch and red is the colour of danger and warning. The only
colour used to describe Curleys wife lips, nails, and red feathers on her red mules so A
word such as red helps the reader think that she is dangerous and seductive. He also
described her voice as a nasal, brittle quality. This makes the reader to suggest that she is
trying to sound unconfident so that the others feel to be kind for her. Phrases such as ostrich
feathers create an impression of inappropriate/ seductive and this shows she is making an
effort to impress the ranch workers in the barn. She needs to be heavily made up to look
attractive to get the attention of the ranch workers.
How she is treated by others
The other men in the ranch think of Curleys wife mostly in the negative way. For example
Candy says I think Curleys married a tart. and she got the eye. This shows that she is

sexy and attractive. As well as that she is purty said Lennie defensively. This suggests that
how complex she is and not a one dimensional character since the mens views is split and
Steinbeck says Lennie watched her fascinated This shows that he is interested of her
appearance e.g. her dress and on the other hand this shows that she can pull other men and
get them in trouble. The other men treat Curleys wife badly. For example, George refers to her
in Chapter Two as a rat trap and jail bait. This shows Georges disbelieve for Curleys wife as
he believes that she may be taking advantage of Lennies lack of intelligence to get him into
trouble. Also George refers her curley got his work ahead of him. Bet shed clear out for twenty
bucks. this shows that she would give up everything by money. The only man who has positive
relationship is slim.
Curleys wife relationship with her husband (Curley)
Curleys wifes relationship with Curley is terrible Curley controls her. For example Curleys
wife is shown to say: I dont like Curley. He aint a nice fella. This shows that Curley is
oppressive and controlling of her suggesting a possibly violent nature to their relationship. This
relates to ideas of women in the 1930s, which were still not equal in rights to men and were
treated in the way represented here. Sure I gotta husband this creates an image that she
doesnt see Curley as a well husband and her relationship with him is so weak. In the story of
mice and men Curleys wife has a very distrusting relationship with Curley. This is shown she
says swell guy, aint he this shows us that she knows what Curley really is and that she knows
that he isnt really that interested in her. She lets him use her to show that he has power
because she doesnt know how to get out of his life.
Curleys wife back story
Curleys wifes dreams reflect the American Dream. For example in Chapter 5 she says: Could
been in the movies this shows that she truly believed that she had a lot of talent, but she says
later that she was never contacted again by the person who offered her a role in the film this
suggests that she was being mislead and lied to. This relates to the American dream as she
believed that she could achieve anything, which is what the American Dream is, if you work hard
How she treats others
"An' what am I doin'? Standin' here talkin' to a bunch of bindle stiffs - a nigger an' a dum-dum
and a lousy ol' sheep - an' liking it because they ain't nobody else."
John Steinbecks perspective sympathy for Curleys wife

In the novel Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck tells a story of dreams, hopes and loneliness.
We are introduced to a majorly important and complex Character, named Curleys wife.
Steinbeck shows us that Curleys wife is flirtatious, naughty but most of all a lonely character.
She plays a main part in the novel; in doing this she displays and presents many of the main
themes. Before we are presented to Curleys wife, Candy talks about her, to George and
Lennie. I think Curleys married a tart. Steinbeck is preparing us before we meet Curleys
wife. He does this, so that we have an influenced opening impression of Curleys wife and the
way she acts. We develop an opening perception of Curleys wife as being flirtatious. This is
shown at the introduction, of Curleys wifes way in. Steinbeck first introduces us to her
appearance, full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes Curleys life has been suggested to us
as someone who is trying to be displayed as a sexual object. She would be doing this to attract
attention. The colour red is often considered for portraying a sign of danger or sex. Steinbeck
portrays these signs frequently, red mulesred ostrich feathers. In doing this, it is suggesting
to the reader that Curleys wife is jailbait. She refers crooks, Lennie and candy a nigger an a
dum-dum and a lousy ol sheep. This is showing that although the writer makes us feel sorry for
her as she is the only woman on the ranch and is lonely he is showing us that she is not all
innocent and she is prejudice towards other who werent accepted in the 1930s society. She is
unfair towards black people, disabled people and old people. This shows that she does not have
a good relationship with them at all as she is being mean to them and using inequitable terms of
Sympathy for Curleys wife
Steinbeck wants us to feel sorry for her at the end of the book when she dies. She was very
pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. This shows us that she is seen as being
sweet and innocent in death her natural beauty is allowed to shine through. This highlights the
fact that it was her negative life experience that made her act in the way that she did. By using
the words sweet and young to describe her it also makes us feel sorry for her because it shows
that she is innocent and that she didnt really deserve to die. Another time I met a guy, and he
was in pictures, went out to the Riverside Dance Palace with him, he says he was gonna put me
in the movies, soon as he got back to Hollywood he was going to write to me about it. This
shows that she wanted to be an actress, but couldnt complete her dreams as in America in
1930s women were not treated equally and had no rights. They were seen as below men and
did not have a say in whats right and wrong. This man used her and made promises to her that
he was never going to keep because he let her down and she didnt get what she wanted she
married Curley who also treated her badly. He didnt love her and didnt talk to her. Her life really
hasnt ended up the way she expected it to, which is another reason why we should feel
sympathy for her. On the other hand this also shows that she wasnt treated fairly by men.

o She is newly married to Curley.


We never know her name - she is merely Curley's 'property' with no individual
She is young, pretty, wears attractive clothes and curls her hair.
She seems flirtatious and is always hanging around the bunk-house.
She is lonely - there are no other women to talk to and Curley is not really interested
in her.
"What kinda harm am I doin' to you? Seems like they ain't none of them cares how I
gotta live. I tell you I ain't used to livin' like this. I coulda made somethin' of myself."
She doesn't like Curley - she tells Lennie that she only married him when she didn't
receive a letter she'd been promised to get into Hollywood.
She is nave.

Curley's wife is a complex, main character in John Steinbeck's novella, "Of Mice and Men" She
is introduced at the beginning and ultimately causes the end of the novella, her naivity and
flirtatiousness leading to her inevitable death at the hand of Lennie, confused and scared by her
forwardness and eventual unrest.
She is first introduced by Candy, the swamper, who describes her from his perpsective to George
and Lennie. The fact that Curley's wife is introduced through rumours means that the reader
already has a biased opinion of Curley's wife before she even enters the section. Candy mentions
that she, "got the eye" explaining that she is flirtatious and immoral in that wea re hit with the
fact that she flirts with other men immediately after it is stated thatshe is married to Curley.
Already, the reader is introduced to the idea that Curley's wife is an immoral "tart" which is
strengthened upon her first appearance, which follows shortly after.
She is first seen in the doorway of the bunkhouse , asking about the location of her husband,
which is soon revealed as being a weak excuse to interact with the ranchers. She is wearing a
"red cotton house dress" and a pair of mules decorated with "bouquets of red ostrich feathers."
emphasisinig her sexual presence as the colour red, which is expressed repeatedly when Curley's
wife's clothes are described, is often reffered to as the colour of love and passion. Additionally,
the bouquets of ostrich feathers, also described as red, on the insteps of her shoes would have
been extremely expensive in the times Of Mice and Men was set; and that Curley's wife not only
wears them on her feet but in the middle of the 'Dust Bowl' expresses her desperate need for
attention as she is willing to possibly ruin her best shoes in order to entice the ranchers, despite
the fact that she has a husband.
Not only is Curley's wife described as being a floozy but she is also described as being
threatening. Upon entering Crooks's room, it is apparent that Crooks and Candy are afraid of her
when they both, "scowled down away from her eyes." this deliberate prevention of eye contact
could suggest that the men have a fear of Curley's wife or that they do not feel the need to
dignify her with eye contact. The use of the word " scowling" means that either way, the
presence of Curley's wife displeases Candy and Crooks. Eventually Curley's wife explodes at
Crooks in a series of threatening comments after he sticks up for himself, "I could get you strung
up so easy." Crooks then retracts all emotion and becomes very weak and submissive because of
Curley's wife's threats. On the other hand, in this encounter you begin to realise the cause of her
hostility, as it mentions that Curley's wife would like to "bust him." referring to Curley. The fact

that Curley's wife has admitted that sometimes she would like to hurt Curley hints at domestic
abuse as throughout the novel, Curley is described as violent and now that Curley's wife has
admitted that despite being his wife, she would like to hurt him, creates the idea that Curley
gives her a reason. If Curley's wife does infact suffer domestic abuse then this may partially
excuse her hostility as she is mirroring the only atmosphere she is around whilst in the presence
of her husband.
Curley's wife's last appearance has a drastic effect on how she is presented in the novella. Whilst
all the other ranchers are playing horseshoe, Lennie is sat in the barn and is soon approached by
Curley's wife. An interesting part about her character is explained by Irony used cleverly by
Steinbeck. Her dream of being in the limelight is unrealistic as all she ever does is cast shadows
and attract negative attention. When she entered the barn the, "sunshine in the doorway was cut
off." not only portraying her as a negative influence but also foreshadowing her dismal end in
the barn. Although,as she slowly opens up to Lennie, despite his lack of interest, the reader gains
more and more knowledge about the truth of Curley's wife's personality, her innocence and dire
need for escape and the drive to fulfill her dream that still remains, despite the circumstances.The
true pureness of her character is expressed only upon her death, where her face is described as
being, "sweet and young" and the "ache for attention was all gone for her face." The use of the
word ache implies that Curley's wife's need for attention was so strong that it hurt her, true in the
fact that it did hurt her personality. In accordance with the new atmosphere caused by Curley's
wife's death, and the realisation that she was never a floozy, the "sun streaks where high on the
walls" and the barn was light again. This may be evidence of pathetic fallacy in that the levels of
light and atmosphere reflect Curley's wife's changing mood and appearance.
Ultimately, despite all of the revelations about Curley's wife's personality in the final scene, her
death is caused by her never ending need for attention in that once Lennie reveals that he likes to
pet soft things she offers up her hair, despite him telling her that many things he pet end up dead,
which is foreshadowing Curley's wife's fate.
It is apparent that Curley's wife's anger stems from continuous betrayal by men and an unmet
need for attention which is the factor that helps fuel her dream of becoming an actress. This is
expressed throughout the novella in that Curley's wife often mentions thatshe "coulda been in the
movies." but a letter starting her career, promised by a hollywood producer she met at the
Riverside Dance palace, never arrived. Naively, Curley's wife believed that her protective aunt
stole the letter. This lead to Curley's wife leaving home as she believed her aunt was holding her
back and her dream of becoming an actress was so strong she would not let anything get in the
way. In leaving home she met Curley, who's anger, coupled with her residual anger caused by the
betrayals and her lack of attention forced her to build layers over her true personality. This
ultimately presented Curley's wife as an angry woman, who's seductive clothing and flirtatious
gestures draw in the attention she so much desires but never used to recieve; but further analysis
shows she is so much deeper.
Additionally, Curley's wife is seen only as a posession of Curley, rather like a trophy wife. The
fact that Steinbeck writes the characters as never once mentioning her real name prevents the
likeliness of her having a personal relationship with anyone on the ranch, including her husband.
This disassociation with the boss and his son, her wife, distances her from the powers of the

ranch. But in turn, her association with the authority in that she lives in the boss's house and is
married to the boss's son prevents her from building a relationship with the ranchers as she is
seen as a woman of power; despite the fact that she is actually very low in the heirarchy of the
ranch, in terms of her freedom and rights. This extreme loneliness changed Curley's wife, leading
her to knock down those of low stature on the ranch in order to make herself feel important and
authoritive. This is shown when she enters Crooks's room and says, "they left all the weak ones
here" suggesting that she considers herself higher in stature than Crooks, Candy and Lennie even
though she is displayed as so unimportant that Steinbeck does not even dignify her with a name.
To summarize, I believe Curley's wife, although being a complicated and often sinister character,
never intended to be or thought of herself as a floozy or a mean person, and although at times she
was presented as one, subtle hints always arose explaining why she was acting that way and that
her true personality was not shining through.
Curleys wife has no name and is initially seen as the possession of her husband. She is also a
good-looking lady who wears quite a bit of makeup, form-fitting dresses, and ostrich featheredhigh heels. As the only woman on the ranch, Curleys wife is lonely and sad something her
marriage to Curley only makes worse. She reveals throughout the course of the story that she is
unhappy in her marriage because her husband seems to care little for her, and is really more
interested in talking about himself than anything else. Further, she laments her lost potential; she
details twice that she couldve been a Hollywood movie star, though the chance was taken from
her by her mother, who worried she was too young. But Curleys wife has another side that is
petty, cruel, and almost as self-obsessed as her husband. She flirts deliberately with the ranch
hands and causes them to suffer Curleys hotheaded, glove-wearing wrath. Further, she does little
to hide these flirtations from her husband, though theyre likely to infuriate him and make him
feel even smaller. Come to think of it, this is probably why she does it at all. Youre likely to lose
all sympathy for this woman as a desperate captive of ranch-living the moment she barges in on
Lennie, Crooks, and Candy in Chapter Four. She singles the men out, calling them the weaklings
of the pack, left behind for a reason. In her conversation with the men, she reveals her strange
dilemma while she scorns and mocks these ranch men, theyre the only ones she has to talk to,
and talk she will, whether theyll listen or no. Still, in order to make herself feel bigger
(especially relative to those who wont give her the time of day), she has to seek out those who
are smaller. She cruelly cuts down Candy for his old age and meekness, Lennie for being "a dum
dum," and most harshly, she threatens Crooks with a lynching. Finally, Curleys wife, like
Lennie, has no ability to self-evaluate. Unlike Lennie, she doesnt have the excuse of being
mentally slow. Shes just self-obsessed, and unable to judge herself and her position honestly. It
seems at every chance she gets, Curleys wife likes to talk about her lost opportunities. She
speaks of a traveling actor who told her she could join their show, without gathering that this is a
pretty standard pick-up line. Same with the offer to go to Hollywood: Curleys wife has
convinced herself that her mother stole the letter, rather than realize the men werent really
interested in her for any actual talent. Curleys wifes obsession with herself ultimately leads to
her death. She knows Lennie is supposed to stay away from her, but thrives on his attention and
wants his praise for her soft hair. It is not coincidental that she ends up losing her life because she
didnt want Lennie to mess up her hair. This final event sums up Curleys wifes role fairly neatly

Sample Essays



How does Steinbeck present Crookss and Curleys Wifes

Steinbeck shows us how people become stronger with the support and companionship of others
through Curleys Wifes relationship with Crooks. After hearing Candys speech about the dream
they now all share this hope of a better life together. This dream includes Crooks, who before
was irritated by the other mens company, is now realising how lonely he had been before and
this almost reachable dream could become a reality for him, an escape from the isolation he has
to endure everyday on the ranch. Steinbeck writes, She looked from one face to another, and
they were all closed against her. This relationship Crooks has built with Lennie and Candy
immediately reflects on to Curleys wife as they all shut her out of their dream. She has no faith
that they will reach it because shes seen men with the same goal before, always longing to
leave the ranch, but she knows that eventually these men will lose their money to a brothel or a
poker game just like her husband has. Crooks builds his confidence dangerously high with the
help of Candy and Lennie because in that moment he feels equal to them, he becomes angry
and powerful and shouts at Curleys wife, You got no rights comin in a colored mans room.
Crooks is different to the other men on the ranch, he has his own room and possessions
showing us that he will stay on the ranch for a long time and he takes pride in his little room
because its all he has. He doesnt want any trouble and he sees Curleys Wife as a threat to
him and his new friends so its appropriate for him to banish her from his property. Steinbeck
writes Crooks lines carefully and when he says colored man in this quote the reader can
imagine him saying it with authority because after all he is the only man with his own belongings
and when he says this hes probably remembering the rights a coloured man has from the
California Civil Code that he keeps in his room.
Curley has supremacy over his wife so she feels the need to seek higher status than others on
the ranch and unfortunately Crooks is one of these people. When Steinbeck was writing this
novel, racism in America was expected and accepted. Crooks, being the only black man on the
ranch, is automatically the person with the lowest status. Therefore it is normal that Steinbeck
would choose Curleys Wife to threaten him rather than the other men in the room and after
Crooks confronted Curleys Wife and rudely dismissed her from the stable he was putting

himself at jeopardy as well. Curleys Wife says, you keep your place then nigger. I could get
you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even funny. She reminds Crooks of his place on the
ranch and her higher position. She could get him killed so easily even if he had done nothing to
her or to anyone, just because hes black. The way Steinbeck creates this scene makes the
reader see Curleys Wife as the villain and Crooks as a hero because he stood up for his rights.
Steinbeck clearly didnt want her racism to be seen as something normal and the reader
sympathises with Crooks after this insane outburst from Curleys Wife, attacking him. Even after
her horrible threat she waits for a reaction that will make her feel more powerful, she closed on
him and she stood over him waiting for him to move so she could whip at him again. Curleys
Wife has seen Curley intimidate other men like this before so she knows it is an effective way of
gaining status in a situation and remaining powerful against someone else. In this scene shes
just using Crooks to show the other men how dominant she can be and that they shouldnt try
anything with her because she can get them fired easily too and destroy their dream of getting
their own land. Her relationship with Crooks so far is just to gain higher status on the ranch and
though shes been left behind by the other men she wants to feel like she is not one of the weak
or crippled who have just been abandoned on the ranch so its her duty to be in charge.
Curleys Wife destroys all of Crooks hope and by the end of the scene nothing has changed for
him. Her horrifying dialogue is just a reminder to Crooks that he is and always will be the only
black man on the ranch. He shouldnt even have things to live up to because they can so easily
be stripped from him. His body language shows how hurt and damaged he is, Crooks had
reduced himself to nothing, he pressed himself against the wall no personality, no ego
Everything that might be hurt drawn in. Steinbeck creates the image that Crooks has become
so lifeless that he has blended in to the room; hes just an object, just a negro. The reader
knows that Crooks feels so small and unimportant in this scene as hes remembered that he has
almost no rights because of the race that he is. Steinbeck also wants us to realise that Crooks
has suddenly lost all of the power he had gained from Lennie and Candys friendliness and now
he is the same character he was a short time ago when men could beat him for entertainment
and there was nothing he could do. At the end of this scene when the other men come back and
everyone but Crooks has left the room, he returns to rubbing his back with liniment just as he
was at the beginning of the scene, this is Steinbecks way of showing us the dream is over for
him and he may be on the ranch for a long time to come with no way of escape.
In conclusion the relationship between Crooks and Curleys Wife is established after their
argument where Curleys Wife gains higher status and threatens to get Crooks killed if he ever
challenges her again. We are no longer sympathetic towards Curleys Wife because she is just
as nasty as her husband in degrading people who are a threat to them. Steinbeck has shown us
that even though Crooks had a small glimpse of hope, Curleys Wife made him conscious that
he could never accomplish anything, he has no rights as a negro and she could easily have
him killed. The dream has quickly disappeared for Crooks.

What methods does Steinbeck use to present Curleys wife?

In the passage the first words that Steinbeck uses are that Both men
glanced up, and through this we are introduced to Curleys wife through her
effect on men and not through any notion of herself, which Steinbeck does to
show us she is only worthy for the use of men. Not so long after in the
sentence we are told the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway way cut off.
Here, Steinbeck uses the light symbolically to highlight how imposing she is
and present the idea that she is the obstacle to a better life. It soon becomes
apparent that Curleys wife is an outsider of the group when it states, A girl
was standing there looking in. which is a metaphor for the isolation she
feels. It could be reflective of the gender roles at the time; women were only
wanted for mens sexual desires rather than their company. One could also
interpret it as how similarly to a girl, (which she ironically is no longer), she
is seeking attention and wishes all eyes to be on her by standing in the view
of everyone and could be seen as trying to listen in on their conversation
both very childish manoeuvres.
Next, Steinbeck presents her as having full, rouged lips and wide spaced
eyes, heavily made up. As well as wearing a cotton house dress and red
mules and both the heavy make up and flattering outfit make her
incongruous to the nature of a manual labour working ranch and her wellcared for appearance also suggests that she doesnt want to be there and
longs for a more luxurious lifestyle where it would be more appropriate. On
the other hand, one could feel sympathy toward her for having to go to all
this effort to gain attention from other males seen as her own husband isnt
interested and as the make-up is used to cover up, it is clear that she isnt
confident enough to be herself and so is wearing her beauty as some sort of
mask. There is frequent mention of the colour red by Steinbeck in her
description as she wore red mules, with red ostrich feathers and Her
fingernails were red. Steinbeck could be using this to serve as a forewarning
for the reader as popular connotations of red are danger and flirtation so he
could be alerting us for the trouble that it to come from her. Furthermore
about her outfit, the red mules are juxtaposition to the innocent cotton
housedress; the complexity of her outfit could have been used by Steinbeck
to imply that there is another side to her other than the hard-faced and
confident persona she uses. Conversely, when Steinbeck states, Her voice
had a nasal, brittle quality. The readers perception of her as perfection
instantly shatters and this brings us all back down to earth, which Steinbeck
which could be using to remind us that no-one is matches our images of
perfection and could be used to show the harsh mistreatment throughout her
life and the effects of ranch life for a woman.
As previously mentioned, gender roles at the time were very much in place

and women were often degraded and thought of only as objects and even
animals and Steinbeck reinforces this idea by never mentioning her name
and referring to her only as Curleys wife throughout the narration,
highlighting that at the time some women were named and spoken about
only as Xs wife rather than themselves and leaving them nameless and
unworthy of their own identities but it also makes her look more remote and
friendless. It would also leave the reader wondering and searching for any
clue about what her name is leaving her as a reminder of one of the
mysteries of the book to its readers. Additionally, when Steinbeck writes Her
hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages which further enhances the
idea of degradation as this food simile implies that she is only there to be
consumed. As well as that there are references to her as an animal and an
example is she bridled a little, and this is an action a horse completes
and so here Steinbeck bringing her down to the level of an animal and due to
all of his comparisons it is apparent to the reader that Steinbeck is a fan of
the more marginalised and poor rather than the arrogant and conceited,
similarly to her.
When she spots Lennie admiring her figure Curleys wife says Nobody cant
blame a person for lookin, and from the quote her arrogance becomes very
apparent and it seems that she is satisfied with the attention she is
receiving. The reader reads, her body was thrown forward. and that She
smiled archly and twitched her body. and both of these quotes highlight the
idea that she has no control on her part or power over herself and completes
action not according to her will. Steinbeck could be trying to say that Curley
has almost drained away all her confidence about herself, which the make-up
she wears is used as substitute for. As soon as mention of her husband arises
she was suddenly apprehensive and left the bunkhouse and so the
reader can instantly sense the hold that Curley has over her as even the
subject of her husbands presence when mentioned by others worries her.
Structurally, the extract seems to end on a quick, anxious and uneasy note
as Curleys wife hurried away. Perhaps Steinbeck is using this to highlight
the panic that Curley has over her and the thought of her interacting with
other males is inconceivable to him despite his unfaithfulness toward their
relationship (which she is aware of and so it is for this reason she seeks all
this attention from other men.) Also, it could have been used as a reminder
the intensity and pace of ranch life as a migrant worker.

How do you think Steinbeck uses the character of Curleys wife in the
novel as a whole to convey important ideas about society at the time?
In the novel, Steinbeck sets the story in a very segregated and broken era of the 1930s where
unemployment was high after the economic crisis of the Wall Street Crash and so employers
hired people on a basis of their standing in the social hierarchy; women were often very

degraded, with many believing they were good-for-nothing other than the sexual pleasure they
can provide and Steinbeck has included the idea of this through the treatment of the character
of Curleys Wife.
Firstly, Steinbeck presents Curleys Wife as a serial pessimist, she is a woman in the 1930a and
so she would never be treated like an equal. Curleys wife struggles to come to terms with this,
Think I dont like to talk to someone ever and from the quote we can see that Steinbeck is
using her denial of the facts and the way that society is, to create a character that feels that she
is equal to men. Her persistence to gain attention and gain compassion causes the reader to
feel sympathy and an understanding of her situation. Her lack of compassion and association
with the ranch workers is, as a result of her treatment, apparent through the use of her crude
language; a nigger an a dum-dum and a lousy ol sheep. Here, she takes advantage of the
fact that for once she is above a male in the social hierarchy and so she relishes in the novelty
feeling of having power and the cycle of the abused (Curley is assumed to be physically violent
to his wife) becoming the abuser becomes apparent. The offensive terms used convey her will
to express that hierarchy system and place herself as more important and significant as
whoever she can as in society the time, that was all that mattered. Steinbeck writes this to show
that she is in fact not a damsel-in-distress but she can in fact hold terms on her own and so in
her relationships with men other than Curley she is defiant to the rules of society and doesnt
fears the wrath of Crooks response. Despite her outburst of anger, the reader could feel pity
toward her, as it is suggested that it is the only way she feels in any way worthy or confident as
a 1930s female and so this creates a sense of empathy from the reader as we can see her pure
desperation for company.
Steinbeck leaves Curleys wife as the only female present in the ranch and from this alone it
would be difficult enough for her to find any friendships as such on the ranch; perhaps it would
have be a sign of weakness for the men to have purely a friendship with a woman and this
highlights how important others perceptions were of themselves at the time. As a result, she
resorted to try and be even more than friends with the males in order to gain any sense of
compassion that she is severely lacking from the man she vowed to spend her life with - Curley.
Steinbeck allows her to use many colloquialisms throughout the text to express her anger such
as Baloney! which is used many times to convey her frustration towards the workers for the
lack of trust they give to her and women at the time.
Furthermore, Steinbeck uses Curleys wife as a tool to show the role of women in the era of
The Great Depression because everyone has their own dreams yet women were forced to
leave their dreams behind and forget about their chances of ever fulfilling their American
Dreams; the pursuit of happiness and all the possibilities of what could have happened?. To
survive in the 1930s Curleys wife would have had to accept this and evolve her life around it.
Curleys wife becomes attached to the topic of her self-absorbed dream of becoming a

Hollywood actress however the reader is given the impression that Curleys wife had to marry
him because he owned a farm and she realistically knew that she wouldnt get a better chance,
and so took it; willing to overlook his deceit and the hardship of life on the ranch and so she
seems to be unsatisfied with her own life and cant get out- she seems to be trapped in a
loveless marriage. Steinbeck further implies this idea when she states Sure I gotta husban.
You all seen him. Swell guy aint he? and here her use of sarcasm implies that she has insight
and isnt as unintelligent as the men assume all women are at the time.

How does Curleys wife have a major significance in the novella Of

Mice and Men?
In the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck creates characters that play
important roles throughout the story that contribute to themes and connect
readers to an overall focus. Curleys wife, a minor, but significant character
in the story, contributes to the theme and is partly responsible for Lennies
death. Her sinful actions and petty personality make her a character that
isnt respected by others and is known for being trouble around the ranch.
Disregarding her flirtations ways and overall self-absorbance, her dreams of
a promising future are destroyed. Her gaudy appearance and constant
search for Curley makes the men on the ranch view her as a cheater and
inappropriate woman. However, after hearing her story, some of her actions
have justice and readers reach some sympathy for her position as Curleys
wife. Being self-absorbed and lonely, Curleys wife contributes significantly to
the overall theme and story Of Mice and Men.
Living on a vegetable field in California isnt something to brag about. The
climate is hot and dry and the conditions on the ranch arent pleasant. When
others wear denim overalls and old fashioned dirty hats, Curleys wife never
fails to make her appearance known, She had...wide-spaced eyes, heavily
made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like
sausages...She mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets
of red ostrich feathers(31). Her bright and vulgar appearance screams for
attention from the other men on the ranch. In the conditions shes living in,
dressing the way she does is considered inappropriate and is completely out
of place. Her arrogance in the way she dresses shows how self-absorbed she
is as a character. Curleys wife is also unfaithful to her husband and
constantly flirts with others on the farm. She knows wearing tight dresses
and heavy makeup will attract the attention of men which is extremely
wrong since she is married. If she didnt know she was attractive, she would
never try to impress others which is why she is so self-absorbed. However, all
her self-arrogance has some reason behind it, which is explained in Curleys
wifes story about how she ended up in her predicament.

Although Curleys wife has shown a significant amount of negative features

and actions, her loneliness causes readers to gain sympathy for her wrongbeing. Being married to Curley is a problem in itself considering his temper
and arrogance. Curleys wife explains how hes only open to talking about
himself and doesnt care much about her. When coming across Lennie in the
barn, she explains, Why cant I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I
get awful lonely(86). After saying this, one realizes that Curleys wife may
appear as happy and a show off through the way she dresses, but inside she
is depressed and seeking companionship. After high hopes of becoming
famous in Hollywood, her dreams are destroyed by her Mother who thinks
shes too young. She ends up with Curley and is unhappy and depressed
after being deprived of a promising future. Curleys wife has every right to be
lonely due to her predicament and her attention-grabbing appearance
explains her hopes of becoming famous. Not having anyone to talk to makes
Curleys wife latch on to some form of happiness, which she finds from
getting the attention of others. Since no one cares about her personality,
including her husband, she uses her appearance to get the the only people
around her, which are men, to like her and enjoy her company. Her loneliness
and long for someone to express her feelings with makes her a bitter and
independent character.
Although shes only a minor character, Curleys wife provides major
significance to the novel as a whole. Curleys wife is the major factor to
Lennies death and is the symbol of a dying dream. She tried so hard to gain
the attention of the men on the farm and she never received any. When she
finally gets attention from Lennie, she panics which leads to her death. Being
so young and full of hope and compassion, she is the significance of a dying
dream, Curleys wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the
meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention
were all gone from her face...she was very pretty and simple, and her face
was sweet and young(93). Her lost dream not only affected herself, but
other characters dreams as well. George and Lennies dream to live on the
small farm with all the animals is destroyed after Curleys wifes death.
However, theyre not the only ones effected, Candy also had hopes to live
there and so did Slim and Carlson. The dream of living on this farm made
working and making money worthwhile to the workers and the death of
Curleys wife is the end to this dream. The whole focus of the novel is the
dreams of mice and men, Curleys wife is the determining factor of how the
dreams often go awry.
Through her self-absorbed and lonely traits, Curleys wife plays a significant
role in the novel and prepares readers for the end of the story. Steinbeck
shows that although she is considered a minor character, she has as much
importance in the novel as Lennie or George would. Curleys wife, who
remains unnamed throughout the story, shows the whole point of how the
dreams of men are often changed. She ended up on the ranch instead of

being in the movies. Her dreams were changed, like Lennies. Her death
makes readers question maybe if her dreams did come true, George &
Lennies would too. Steinbeck creates these minor characters as puzzle
pieces that connect to make the big picture of the novel. Curleys wife,
although having her negative moments, was a character who showed great
potential with a dream. Curleys wife contributes to the overall focus in the
novel, that the dreams of mice and men often go awry.

Curley's wife plays an important role in much of the action in Steinbeck's Of Mice and
Select a Scene in which Curley's Wife Appears. Analyse Closely how Steinbeck Presents
this Character at this point, and Consider Briefly this Character's Role in this Novel as a
Curley's wife plays an important role in much of the action in Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."
The only woman on the ranch and married to the boss's son, she is presented mainly through
the eyes of the men.
We first see her when she comes into the bunkhouse where Lennie and George are talking.
Steinbeck presents us with the image of her framed in the doorway, heavily made up, with "full
rouged lips" and red fingernails. She also is wearing red mules with ostrich feather detail on
them. The colour red is quite provocative and has connotations such as love, passion and
danger. It is also significant as it could be foreshadowing future problems between Lennie and
herself, because Lennie got into trouble in Weed, from trying to touch a girl wearing red. It is
also made clear to the reader, that Curley's wife has spent a long time making herself up, "Her
hair hung in little rolled clusters like sausages" which implies she spent time curling her hair, but
the simile Steinbeck uses: "like sausages," I think reflects the male perspective, and
emphasizes that she is always viewed by men. Also, the way she appears framed in the
doorway makes it seem as though she is something pretty to look at, an object, and Curley's
"Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off" is the
description used to describe her first appearance in the novel. It suggests that she has obscured
the light, and darkened the room with her presence. The image created is dark and threatening.
She is also not really inside the room or out, which may be to show that she is an outsider, and
does not feel like she fits in with all the men. She is alone, as she is a lot of the time. I think this
shows she is very lonely because even though she is always asking where Curley is, they are
never seen together. Her stance also seems quite provocative; "her body was thrown forward,"
she smiled "archly" and "twitched her body". The impression she gives is that of a young girl,

pretty and desperate for attention, not caring what sort.

In a letter to the actress Claire Luce, who played Curley's wife in a theatrical production of "Of
Mice and Men" Steinbeck described her to be a woman who had grown up in an atmosphere of
fighting and suspicion, and she learned that the only thing that would get her a husband, was
her virginity. Steinbeck helps show her desire to seem sexually attractive by her long red
fingernails and short skirt, which seem quite vulgar, but may also seem to be conveying the idea
that she is dangerous, in that she tries so hard to be noticed.
Her voice is said to have a "nasal, brittle quality." I think the word brittle suggests vulnerability
and also shows that she is also quite an unstable character who has dreams of being
elsewhere. It may also be used to suggest that she is fragile, and could be indicating what is
going to happen to her.
Virtually every time we see her, she is asking after Curley. It seems that she feels this is the only
connection she has with the men, and even when they have answered her queries, she tries to
conversation so she can stay. She is presented as a social misfit; the men don't want her
hanging around, because she causes trouble, in their eyes. George is wary of her at once, he
warns Lennie that she is dangerous, and can get them into trouble, but Lennie just seems taken
with her looks, and even when George calls her a "tramp" "bitch" and "jail bait" Lennie just says
admiringly: "she's purty". I think that Steinbeck uses these two responses to show us that
George realises the dangers of letting Lennie get close to Curley's wife, while Lennie doesn't
understand why George is so anxious.
Steinbeck emphasizes her flirtatious behaviour when he describes her speech as playful. Slim,
who has been at the ranch for quite a long time seems to know this because he flirts back at her
when he comes in; "hi good lookin'". I think Slim, who is good at understanding other people,
realises that all she wants is a few kind words, and he tries to give her that. This also shows
how she thrives on attention. When Slim tells her that he has just seen Curley in her house, it
says she became "suddenly apprehensive", and then she leaves immediately. It seems that she
is afraid of her own husband, and that he wanted her staying in the house. If that is true, then it
might imply that he thinks her to be unfaithful and does not trust her around other men.
In the novel as a whole, I think she represents the marginalized and disempowered part of
society. The black stable buck Crooks is the only person she has power over on the ranch. The
power she has, she uses very unkindly, threatening to have him lynched when he asks her to
leave his room. She is also the main cause of Lennie's death, so is important to the plot in that

Overall I think that Curley's wife is presented as flirtatious, lonely young woman who is not really
happy where she is. The frivolous red mules she wears perhaps symbolise the life she would
have liked to have. She is also presented as a threat to Lennie and George, and a source of
gossip for the rest of the men. I think that sympathy for her is evoked in the reader though,
because of her sad situation and cruel husband.

What methods does Steinbeck use to present Curleys wife and the
attitudes of other to her? And How Does Steinbeck present attitudes
to women in the society in which the novel is set?
The novel Of Mice and Men is set in a very patriarchal society, a society in which men
dominate women and use them for their own needs. Women, who lived within this society, were
not seen equal to men. Steinbeck uses many different language techniques to describe Curleys
wife. She plays a complex and misfit character in the novel and is made to sound like a tart as
mentioned by George himself. Curley uses her for his own needs and controls her. As Curleys
wife walks through the bunk house, the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off,
describing the fact that it goes dark, a sign of evil and danger. A very strong sense of foreboding
is given and this continues throughout the text yet, getting stronger. Curleys wife is kept away
from the men. A girl was standing...Looking in. Curleys wife is standing at the doorway like
theres an invisible barrier, preventing her from entering the mens dorm. This is because the
men dont want her mixing in with them. They are afraid to talk to her as it would result in losing
their jobs. She is ostracised and excluded from the male fraternity. She knows her beauty is her
power, and she uses it to flirt with the ranch hands and make her husband jealous. She is utterly
alone on the ranch, and her husband has seen to it that no one will talk to her without fearing a
beating. For this specific reason, Curleys wife uses Im lookin for Curley as a pick up line to
get through to the other men even if it means getting a hello. She mentions this twice throughout
the text. Once when shes talking to George and another when shes talking to Slim however,
the men still keep their distance in fear of Curley. Because of her beauty, Lennies eyes move
down over her body. Lennie finds her attractive and wants to touch her like he did to the girl in
the red dress. As mentioned in the beginning of the novel, the girl in the red dress was trouble
for George and Lennie. This is creates an atmosphere of foreboding. Curley and his wifes
relationship isnt very tight so for this reason, Curleys wife tries to seek companionship but goes
about it the wrong by openly flirting and dressing to impress. She had full rouged lips and wide
spaced eyes. Heavily made up. She covers her face in make-up and puts on an innocent look
however it creates the thought shes seducing in the readers head. As well as this, she uses a
flirtatious but coy voice, her voice has a nasal, brittle quality. Brittle meaning fragile, proves that
she talk the way she does for friendly attention. Not just to gain sexual attention. As I have
previously mentioned, Curleys wife has a very complex character in which she is, at some
points, made to sound naive and at some points very seducing. To back up my point, during mid
text, Curleys wife puts her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that
her body was thrown forward. At this point, Curleys wife starts to seduce. She does this
because, her pick up line didnt gain much attention from George as he simply replied, he was
in here a minute ago, but he went. Curleys wife does so much for someone to talk to her but
doesnt go about it the right way. On the other hand, Curleys wife has a lot of importance in the
novel. At the beginning of the text, Steinbeck uses the colour red many times. In this particular
piece of text, red isnt just an ordinary colour but has much more depth to. Its repeated in the
first paragraph thrice. Her finger nails were redand red mulesred ostrich feathers. Red is

mainly associated with Curleys wife who is symbolic to Eve- the female character who, in the
biblical story ( the garden of Even) bring sin and death to the society. However, red also
represents the anger of a bull, which, relating back to the novel, attracts Lennie similar to the
girl in the red dress. It also signifies love, impurity and desire, the type of attention Curleys wife
is looking for. Yet, also, red in a traffic light, stop and look. As I previously mentioned, the novel
was set in a patriarchal society. The women had no dignity and no rights to speak up for
themselves or make their own decisions. Similarly, Curleys wife is treated with a very low level
of respect and is isolated from the male society. She has no possession of her own name and is
classified as a tart. The men dont try to talk to her because of the fear of Curley and the
consequences they would face after. Finally, Curleys wife gets worried when she finds out that
Curley went back to their house. She was suddenly apprehensive and she scurried away.
Curley likes to fight with big men, so if he finds out that his wife was in the bunk house with the
big man, hell be sure to pick out a fight once he finds her. To conclude my essay, Curleys wife
is treated like a no one and has no importance in the eyes of the men. She is treated similar to
Candy and Crooks like shes good for nothing and only good to be used as a toy. Steinbeck
indirectly mentioned the rights of women and discrimination in this novel through the way Curley
treats his wife and the way the men are scared to talk to her.

How does Steinbeck present Curleys wife?

Curleys wife presented in a complicated way.. She is ambiguous in some sense. Dangerous:
both men glanced up for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. She had full
rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Red, foreshadowing danger. Vulnerable:
heavily made up. Insecure. Hiding domestic violence. Mysterious. Outlet for feelings, only thing
she has control over. Wants attention because she is neglected by Curley. I dont like Curley.
He aint a nice fella. She is a possession to Curley. She puts her hands behind her back leaned
against the door frame so that her body was thrown forwards. She is acting provocatively
towards George and Lennie because she thinks that she can het their attention that she is
lacking from her marriage. She closes off after she gets some attention from people especially
Lennie because this is not what she wanted. She looks at her fingernails which shows that she
is not interested. She is commented in a derogatory way by the men. Steinbeck wants to teach
people that we shouldnt judge women. They think that she is immature and irresponsible. She
is presented as spiteful and ungrateful in the middle of the novella by the way she treated other
minor characters such as the black guy. A bunch of bindlestiffs-a nigger an a dum-dum and
lousy ol sheep. She is annoyed at how she is being treated by the other minor characters which
lead her to this outbreak. She is worked up because she discriminates crooks by what she
immediately sees. She repeats and and this fractures her sentences. Curleys neglected lead
to her ability to act rational being affected. Exasperated and anguished by her own self because
she likes talking to people. Women were treated worse than lowly ranch workers. Desperate
and lonely way. Also relies on the American dream because she goes on multiple times about
her dream to be a singer. She likes to be in the spotlight. Tumbled suggests that she is
overwhelmed at the attention she is receiving from Lennie. Flowing out, hurried for her story to

be heard. Afraid of Lennie neglecting her like Curley did. Curleys wife is demanding and
childish. She has restrictions from her husband. Acting like a child and questioning why.
Confiding in Lennie because he has a low IQ level which means that he cannot tell everyone
her secrets, hopes and dreams. When she dies she is presented in an innocent way. Her hair
looks like a halo around her head. And she looks like an angel. This could suggest that people
were recognised as important after they have died not when they are alive. Vulnerable because
she is stripped of her make up. She has finally found peace and her pain was gone from her
face. Makes us feel guilty about our assumptions on her.
She questions people to start off a conversation; it is also a way to show that she wants
answers. She is also insecure about who she can trust so she questions them to see if they are
telling the truth. However, she will get defensive in the middle of the conversation when they
have lied to her. Therefore, she uses sentences that do not make sense and exclamations.
Juxtapositions in a paragraph could represent Curleys wifes ambiguous nature and her
complex characteristics. Of Mice and Men is not kind in its portrayal of women. In fact, women
are treated with contempt throughout the course of the book. Steinbeck generally depicts
women as troublemakers who bring ruin on men and drive them mad. Curleys wife, who walks
the ranch as a temptress, seems to be a prime example of this destructive tendencyCurleys
already bad temper has only worsened since their wedding. Aside from wearisome wives, Of
Mice and Men offers limited, rather misogynistic, descriptions of women who are either dead
maternal figures or prostitutes. Despite Steinbecks rendering, Curleys wife emerges as a
relatively complex and interesting character. Although her purpose is rather simple in the books
opening pagesshe is the tramp, tart, and bitch that threatens to destroy male happiness
and longevityher 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 laterwhen she admits to
Lennie her dream of becoming a movie starmakes her utterly human and much more
interesting than the stereotypical vixen in fancy red shoes. However, it also reinforces the
novellas grim worldview. In her moment of greatest vulnerability, Curleys wife seeks out even
greater weaknesses in others, preying upon Lennies mental handicap, Candys debilitating age,
and the color of Crookss skin in order to steel herself against harm. Women had a profound
sense of loneliness and they desire a friend or a companion. However, women like Curleys wife
will settle for an attentive ear from a stranger. Women were often unhappily married to help
escape from the great depression in the USA. They were rendered helpless by their isolation
and even at their weakest will seek to destroy those who were weaker. Oppression does not
come from those who are strong or powerful but those who are also suffering. Strength is born
from those who are weak and at their weakest. The American dream is impossible especially at
the time of when of mice and men were set because this was the time of the great depression
and the dust bowl where farmers were out of work and suffering. Therefore, Curleys wife
abandons her American dream and marries Curley for financial security. Women are not

referred to by their names but by a pronoun. It shows that they are seen as mere possessions
and not even real human beings. They are insignificant and inferior to others therefore they
have no name. Curleys wife is not given a name to represent the status of women in the 1930s.
They were ranked as low as Black people such as crooks who is also not given a name.
Alternative: Portrayal of women in of mice and men is unflattering and limited from the point of
view of men. Women dont have a place in the authors vision of the world which was
surrounded by bonds of men. Women are unimportant, thus they are portrayed in a negative
light. Steinbeck: He was a feminist who helped raise the profile of women and their role in the
1930s. He also disagreed with the way women were treated because in the end he reveals the
true nature of her and how she was not a bad person all along. He has also made Curleys wife
a complex character to teach readers of the 1930s that women also had feelings and were also
as complex as the men. It also makes her not seem like a one dimensional character. The book
only assigns women with two lowly roles of housewives or prostitutes. Female sexuality is a trap
to ensnare men and ruin their lives. Temptation to men that will lead them to their fall from
perfection. For example, George and Lennie who had their lives ruined by Curleys wife. All
characters are nearly all disempowered by Curleys wife who discriminates the men by their
race, intelligence and age. When Curleys wife speaks to Lennie, the reader is afraid for Lennie
because they can sense something bad will happen. Curleys wife is depicted in a different way
when she is speaking to Lennie because before she was easily dismissed as a flirt with a
temper and a manipulator. However, in the final moments before her death, Steinbeck presents
his sole female character sympathetically. Her loneliness becomes the focus of this scene, as
she admits that she too has an idea of paradise that circumstances have denied her. Curleys
wife seems to sense, like Crooks (who notes earlier that Lennie is a good man to talk to), that
because Lennie doesnt understand things, a person can say almost anything to him. She
confesses her unhappiness in her marriage, her lonely life, and her broken dreams in a passion
of communication. Unfortunately, she fails to see the danger in Lennie, and her attempt to
console him for the loss of his puppy by letting him stroke her hair leads to her tragic death. One
might take issue with Steinbecks description of her corpse, for only in her death does he grant
her any semblance of virtue. Once she lies lifeless on the hay, Steinbeck writes that all the
marks of an unhappy life have disappeared from her face, leaving her looking pretty and simple
. . . sweet and young. The story has spent considerable time maligning women, and much has
been made of their troublesome and seductive natures. It is disturbing, then, that Steinbeck
seems to subtly imply that the only way for a woman to overcome that nature and restore her
lost innocence is through death. Because Curleys wife cannot bare her lonely soul to the men
around her, the men persist in believing she is merely a lousy tart. This is due to
misinterpretations by other characters. Her unattainable dreams make he seem human and the
writer reiterates this through the innocence of her face in the time of her death. In sharing his
vision of what it means to be human, Steinbeck touches on several themes: the nature of
dreams, the nature of loneliness, man's propensity for cruelty, powerlessness and economic
injustices, and the uncertainty of the future.

Explore the significance of Curleys wife

The character of Curleys Wife is one of the most significant characters in the book as she is
linked to the key themes of loneliness and dreams, which ultimately leads to both her death and
Lennies death. Steinbeck uses the character of Curleys Wife as a microcosm for the prejudice
that faced all women in 1930s America.
Like most of the main characters in the novel, Curleys wife is significantly related to the theme
of dreams. Her role in this theme is slightly more important than others, however, because of
her position as the only female character on the farm. The fact that she is the only woman
makes her opinions and actions representative of all women living in the Great American
Depression. Coulda been in the movies, an had nice clothes- all them nice clothes like they
wear. An I coulda sat in them big hotels, an had pitchers took of me. Here, we see how
Curleys Wife, despite not having a name, has dreams and still relies on those dreams as a way
of escaping the loneliness in the farm. Curleys Wife is a stereotype of many other women in
1930s America who turned to men as a result of failed dreams, and chose to take the easy
route rather than be crushed by Americas cruel judgement of women. Curleys Wife is very
significant to the ending of the novel as her death is the downfall of George, Lennie and Candys
united dream. Without this death, George, Lennie and Candy may still have gone on to live their
shared dream, but because of it George had to kill Lennie.
The significance of Curleys Wife is ironically also shown threw the insignificance with which the
workers in the novel treat her. Within her very first introduction, Steinbeck offers a glimpse of her
role as the promiscuous troublemaker and the way in which the other characters respond to
this. George, in particular, illustrates how others judge or misconceive her solely because of her
gender; Jesus what a tramp, so thats what Curley picks for a wife. Here, Steinbeck uses
George to represent the male population of America and their attitude to women in the 1930s.
The character of Curleys Wife is particularly significant in this microcosm as she conveys the
insignificance of women and their reliance on men to just pick and drop them on their own
accord. The disregard with which Curleys Wife is treated continues through to the very lowest
positions in the farms hierarchy. Despite being the daughter-in-law of the boss, Curleys Wife
still suffers abuse from George, Candy and even Lennie who often refer to her as jail-bait and
a tart. These derogatory statements illustrate how Curleys Wife is made to feel worthless
solely because of her gender. Curleys Wife is significant as she presents the backward attitude
of most men in 1930s America who were scared to treat women with respect for fear of evoking
conflict and losing their job, something so hard to come by in the harsh economic times.
Steinbeck uses the character of Curleys Wife to convey her dysfunctional marriage, something
that was common in 1930s America. Curley disrespects his wife and she is constantly the
source of his objectification. This is most evident through her name Curleys Wife which clearly

conveys the hold and possessive nature that Curley has over her. Steinbecks use of
withholding information here, also suggests that she is not deserving of her own name and
highlights her inferior position on the farm. I dont like Curley. He aint a nice fella. Here
Steinbeck shows how Curleys Wife did not marry for love and demonstrates a common
situation in America where women often used their sexuality to get them married for stabilisation
during the Great Depression. Curleys Wife is also a symbol of the mistreatment of women.
Curley says hes keeping that hand soft for his wife. Here, we see how the other characters on
the farm regard Curleys wife as a mere sex object solely because of her gender and her
dependency on her husband. This serves as a microcosm for 1930s America, as the general
consensus was that the sole purpose of women was to meet the needs of their husbands.
A final way in which Curleys Wife is significant in the novel is through her link to the theme of
loneliness. Curleys Wife is one of the loneliest characters in the novel, which is overlooked at
first but becomes more apparent as the novel continues. Why cant I talk to you? I never get to
talk to nobody. I get awful lonely. Curleys Wife is constantly rejected by her husband and to
combat this she tries her best to attract the attention of the workers. She does this by going to
extremes with her physical appearance; She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes,
heavily made up. This shows her desperation to be noticed, which is understandable given the
cruel judgement and disregard with which she and many other American women were faced.
The loneliness of Curleys Wife and her child-like search for attention was eventually the death
of her. In her happiness at being noticed for once, Curleys Wife misjudged Lennies capabilities,
which was what ultimately led to her inevitable death. Curleys Wife represents the lonely people
in America and in the world whose cry for attention turns out to be their downfall.
In conclusion Curleys Wife is extremely significant to the novel and serves as a symbol for
prejudice and objectification in 1930s America. With the help of this character Steinbeck can
clearly illustrate some of the novels key themes of loneliness, dreams and relationships from the
perspective of the only woman in this novel.

How does Steinbeck present the character of Curleys wife in Of Mice

and Men?
Steinbecks Of Mice and Men is a poignant tale which tells of a number of disconnected,
isolated characters. Curleys wife epitomises the extreme loneliness of the human condition.
Although she only makes a significant appearance three times in the novel, she plays an
important part both in terms of plot development and in terms of furthering the readers
understanding of the theme of loneliness and alienation.
Steinbeck uses a number of techniques to portray Curleys wife and the resulting character is

fairly hard to pin down. Although Steinbeck uses a third person omniscient narrator, it is
important to acknowledge that we learn of Curleys wife through a male perspective; the author/
narrator is male, as are all of the other ranch dwellers who comment on and judge Curleys wife,
potentially subtly prejudicing the reader.
Curleys wife is known throughout the novel as Curleys wife and this has a number of effects.
Firstly, her lack of personal identity dehumanises her. Every other character, including Crooks,
has a name. Curleys wife is consistently identified as her husbands possession. This is a
constant reminder as to the main reason that the ranch workers cannot talk to her: they are
anxious that Curley could take offence at any male engagement with his wife and that, because
he is the bosss son, they could lose their jobs as a result. The name she is referred to by the
narrator and by the other characters in the novel could be seen as indication of womens inferior
social status in 1930s America.
Although in a letter to an actress playing Curleys wife in a stage version of Of Mice and Men,
Steinbeck insists he is sympathetic to the only female character, as readers, we have to work
hard to feel sympathy towards her. Through the use of the other characters opinions, the reader
is given a biased view of Curleys wife before even meeting her. For example, Candy, who is
portrayed as a trustworthy, likeable character, tells George that Curleys wife gives Slim the
eye, meaning that she flirts with him, and apparently all the other men on the ranch. He finishes
his piece of gossip by concluding that she is a tart. This view is echoed by other men on the
ranch later in the novel, and George also decides after their initial brief meeting that Curleys
wife is indeed a tramp, poison, jailbait and a rat trap. All of the mens insults suggest that
Curleys wife is sexually available to anyone. There is a sense of hypocrisy here given that
almost all of the men, including Curley, frequent Susys place, the local brothel or cathouse.
When Curleys wife first appears in the novel, supposedly looking for Curley (as she always is)
in the bunkhouse, the description of her appearance may seem to support Candys opinion of
her. Her heavy makeup (full, rouged lips fingernails were red), her overly coiffured
hairstyle which is mentioned every time she appears in the novel, and her choice of clothes
and shoes (red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers) is
not only incongruous with the ranch lifestyle, but also could be seen as an attempt to appear
seductive. Her body language leaned back against the door frame so that her body was
thrown forward could certainly suggest that she is physically offering herself to the men, and
her manner of speaking playfully could be interpreted as flirtatious. However, it is
significant that when she is first introduced, she is referred to as a girl which suggests that she
is young and nave. Indeed, it is implied in the novel that she is very young. Whit refers to her as
the new kid (although subsequently calls her a looloo) and she herself retorts Whatta ya think
I am, a kid? In addition, when she tells her story to Lennie, she refers to a recent incident which
happened when she was fifteen. The other interesting aspect of her first appearance is that the
men are alerted to her presence because the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off.

Again, later on, in the barn, Steinbeck uses light in the description of Curleys wifes dead body.
The contrast is that in the first scene she blocks off natural light and in the final scene, the light
was growing soft casting an almost romantic atmosphere in the barn where Curleys wife lies,
seemingly at rest. The second point here, is that Curleys wife is always appearing at doorways
of the bunkhouse or in Crooks room, but never managing to enter. This may be a metaphor
for the fact that she is always an outsider. The only time she enters a male space and seems to
make contact is just before her death. After our first meeting with Curleys wife, it would be easy
to agree with the mens sexist view towards her. Steinbeck continues to make it difficult for the
reader to sympathise with her in her second scene when she appears at the doorway of Crooks
quarters. Her mannerism may be seen to be somewhat unpleasant and aggressive, They left all
the weak ones here An what am I doin here talking to a bunch of bindle stiffs a nigger an
a dumdum and a lousy ol sheep an likin it because they aint nobody else. However, if
we look at her actions, all the time, the only thing she is seeking is human contact. She is
extremely lonely and isolated, as she tries to explain to the men: Think I dont like to talk to
somebody ever once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time? Several times she
indicates that her marriage is not happy, that Curley is selfobsessed and that he is boastful
and violent. Between the lines, Steinbeck is portraying a sad, isolated character who is doomed
to be unsuccessful when she reaches out to other human beings because of her position on the
In this scene, we also see what might be described as an extremely nasty side to Curleys wife.
When the conversation does not go her way Candy openly insults her she turns on Crooks,
using her one element of power as a white woman over a black man: Well, you keep your place
then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even funny. Although this threat
is abhorrent, perhaps it indicates the level of her frustration with her own position. She is at the
bottom of the hierarchy of white people, and her only form of control could be to accuse Crooks
of some sort of inappropriate behaviour that would lead to his being put to death. The final time
we see Curleys wife is the only time she seems to open up and reveal her vulnerability and her
disappointment with the way her life has turned out. Ironically, even as she is confessing all, I
aint told this to nobody before. Maybe I oughtnt to, her audience, Lennie, is not listening
because he is caught up in his own fantasy world. Therefore, although this scene serves to
show the poignancy of Curleys wifes character, it also underlines that at no time in the novel
does she succeed in making any human contact. When we learn that her words tumbled out in
a passion of communication, as though she hurried before her listener could be taken away, it
is as though she has had her story, her identity, bottled up inside her and she is desperate to
share her hopes, dreams and disappointments with anyone who might listen. Her background
reveals a sad and lonely childhood full of mistrust. We learn that she has a poor relationship
with her mother and that she has enjoyed male attention which has probably been superficial
and has led to her believing that she could have had a career in the movies.

Curleys wifes naivety is emphasised by the way that she behaves around Lennie. She flits
between thinking he is nuts and encouraging physical contact. She believes that he is jus like
a big baby, and although she is aware that he had crushed Curleys hand, shows no caution
around him when she offers for him to stroke her hair. This may be because she is so over
excited by the fact that she believes that she has somebodys attention possibly for the first
time since arriving on the ranch that she does not think beyond the moment.
The reader knows that Curleys wife is doomed the minute she says that she likes to stroke her
hair because it is soft. There is a poignant irony that it is her offer to Lennie that leads to her
death. She is enjoying the attention and perhaps is also slightly motivated by a moment of
kindness to let Lennie enjoy the feel of her hair. Ultimately, though, it is her concern with her
appearance: Youll muss it up. You stop it now, youll mess it up that makes Lennie
inadvertently break her neck in a panicked effort to keep her quiet. The image Steinbeck uses to
describe the moment of her death dehumanises Curleys wife: her body flopped like a fish. It is
in the final description of her that it seems that we are offered a true account of Curleys wifes
true essence: And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for
attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple and her face was sweet
and young. This short passage shows that underneath her hardened exterior she was in
essence a decent person, which is what Steinbeck refers to in his letter to the actress. The
ache for attention had had the opposite of its desired effect, in fact pushing people away rather
than attracting them to her. Furthermore, her dream to be a movie star or iconic figure is echoed
in the almost Sleeping Beautylike description of her: Now her rouged cheeks and reddened
lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. The only time Curleys wife is described in a
positive manner is in her death, and even this is quickly negated by Candy placing blame on her
for ruining their dream: You God damn tramp. Everbody knowed youd mess things up You
lousy tart.
In conclusion, Steinbeck uses a number of techniques to create Curleys wife. Some readers
may feel sympathy for her, others may share the ranch workers view of her. For my part, I see
her as the epitome of loneliness; her only defence against a sexist environment ironically leads
to her further alienation.

How are Crooks and Curleys wife similar?

The characters of Crooks and Curleys Wife are similar in the sense that they are both outcasts
on the ranch. Although they may seem like polar opposites as Crooks is a black male and
Curleys Wife is a white female, they have underlying similarities such as the discrimination they
faced, not only from the men on the ranch but, from the society of the 1920s and 30s. They
were also both portrayed as very lonely and to have had dreams that had been shattered. The

other characters in the book are all white males and they are treated as superiors to these two.
This is shown through the discrimination they face from the other people on the ranch and even
the way Steinbeck refers to them. Firstly, Curleys wife is not actually given a name. She is
simply referred to as Curleys wife, which suggests that she is merely a possession of Curleys
and nothing more. She is also talked about harshly by some of the men on the ranch, being
labelled as a rat-trap and being refused to be spoken to. Like Curleys wife, Crooks is labelled
by the other men of the ranch and discriminated against. They label him as a nigger and then
disregard his feelings by saying he doesnt give a damn about that. Furthermore, his room is
separate from the others because they dont want nothing to do with him. The characters of
Crooks and Curleys Wife are similar in the sense that they are both outcasts on the ranch.
Although they may seem like polar opposites as Crooks is a black male and Curleys Wife is a
white female, they have underlying similarities such as the discrimination they faced, not only
from the men on the ranch but, from the society of the 1920s and 30s. They were also both
portrayed as very lonely and to have had dreams that had been shattered. The other characters
in the book are all white males and they are treated as superiors to these two. This is shown
through the discrimination they face from the other people on the ranch and even the way
Steinbeck refers to them. Firstly, Curleys wife is not actually given a name. She is simply
referred to as Curleys wife, which suggests that she is merely a possession of Curleys and
nothing more. She is also talked about harshly by some of the men on the ranch, being labelled
as a rat-trap and being refused to be spoken to. Like Curleys wife, Crooks is labelled by the
other men of the ranch and discriminated against. They label him as a nigger and then
disregard his feelings by saying he doesnt give a damn about that. Furthermore, his room is
separate from the others because they dont want nothing to do with him. The characters of
Crooks and Curleys Wife are similar in the sense that they are both outcasts on the ranch.
Although they may seem like polar opposites as Crooks is a black male and Curleys Wife is a
white female, they have underlying similarities such as the discrimination they faced, not only
from the men on the ranch but, from the society of the 1920s and 30s. They were also both
portrayed as very lonely and to have had dreams that had been shattered. The other characters
in the book are all white males and they are treated as superiors to these two. This is shown
through the discrimination they face from the other people on the ranch and even the way
Steinbeck refers to them. Firstly, Curleys wife is not actually given a name. She is simply
referred to as Curleys wife, which suggests that she is merely a possession of Curleys and
nothing more. She is also talked about harshly by some of the men on the ranch, being labelled
as a rat-trap and being refused to be spoken to. Like Curleys wife, Crooks is labelled by the
other men of the ranch and discriminated against. They label him as a nigger and then
disregard his feelings by saying he doesnt give a damn about that. Furthermore, his room is
separate from the others because they dont want nothing to do with him.

How Curleys wife is presented in Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck

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 womens 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 characters in the novella is
Curleys 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 Curleys wife is part of Curleys property and that only he has the right on her. Curleys wife
being treated as an object could also be interpreted that she has no right in the ranch. Initially
Steinbeck seems sexist towards Curleys 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 Curleys 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 Curleys wife to be
Purty but got the eye and also calls her a tart. These first impressions of Curleys 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 Curleys wife talking to other men is a sign of flirting, just because she is a woman. As
the novel proceeds we can interpret Candys words into a different interpretation as we start to
sympathies for Curleys wife. This would be because we later find out the only thing Curleys
wife wants is someone to talk to. Steinbecks initial portrayal of Curleys 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 Curleys 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 Curleys wife is first seen in
the novella. Her physical appearance of full rouged lips and wide spaced eyes, heavily madeup 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
gaining attention. Another reason could be that she is too naive. Red or shades of red, are
colours symbolising an impure women, suggesting she is immoral. Through her physical
appearance are part of her actions, Candys descriptions of Curleys wife seem to be accurate
after her first appearance in the novella. On the other hand, Curleys wifes appearance could be
seen as a naivety or simply youthful desire to be found attractive. Red is a primary colour
therefore young adults would be attracted to it; it is also a bright colour which could symbolise
happiness. Therefore Curleys wife wearing the colour red could simply be because she likes
bright colours which perhaps portraits her youthfulness. Some scientific research also proves
that naive people have more chances of having wide eyes which, we can clearly see through
Steinbecks saying wide spaced eyes. In addition, another connotation of red is danger. Red
could be for-shadowing the blood that was to shed. It could also mean that she is calling the
men into gambling their jobs and money to the only girl (married) on the ranch. Furthermore,
red is the colour of the girls dress in Weed, which brought panic and worries to Lennie and
George. So, Steinbeck could use this to undertone the violence and threat to make the reader
worried and build tension throughout the novella. Additionally, her body language adds on
perfectly to the descriptions given by Candy. She put her hands behind her back and leaned
against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward. This would clearly suggest that
she is using her body in order to seize attention. This goes well with the different ways
Steinbeck used to show Curleys wife needed attention. This could also suggest that Curleys
wife is aware of the fact that her body gets her the attention but in other interpretations she
could just be too naive to understand the negative image advertised by her. In the novella,
Steinbeck uses many details to help portrait the relationship between Curleys wife and men on
the ranch. Steinbeck presents Curleys wife as a pessimist, she is a women in the 1930s and so
she would never be treated equally. This is due to the social attitudes towards women in the
1930s. They were never treating women equally and certainly not Curley. This was majorly how
most of the women lived in the 1930s. But, Curleys wife struggles to understand this. Think I
dont like to talk to somebody ever. This makes the reader feel sympathy for Curleys wife and
creates an effect of understanding towards her situation. This quote also shows how lonely
Curleys wife gets and that she almost is in a situation of giving up because no-one is willing to
talk to her except Curley, who most of the time is screaming and doubting her. So I married
Curley. Furthermore the reader is given the impression that Curleys wife HAD to marry Curley
because otherwise she wouldnt have a chance of leading a good life. This is also illustrated
when she says sure I gotta husband. This creates an image that she doesnt like her husband
but also suggests that Curleys not fit to be a husband because every time we see him in the
novella, he seems to be angry and doubting everyone. Another interpretation of this is that the
relationship between Curley and his wife is less than poor and thats why she looks for company
with the other ranch workers. However, her lack of friendship and association with the ranch

workers is made evident that the only place she is dominant enough is with Crooks. I think the
only way she can show that she is equal and stand up is through Crooks and this is where she
spills out her anger because everyone else thinks she is crazy. The use of crude language a
nigger an a dum dum and a lousy ol sheep shows that she is offensively talking to Crooks,
Lennie and Candy. This also shows that, they are only people that have to listen to her, due to
her status on the ranch. Black people were the only ones that were not associated with the
other people and so, Curleys wife is intimidating for once, because she isnt the one being
neglected. This is the only time when she feels she belong to the rest of the society. I
undoubtedly think that, Curleys wife wouldnt say this if; it werent for the harsh ranch workers
and her husband, treating her poorly. I am saying this because; we had already seen her
naivety. But unfortunately, the 1930s America, has turned out on Curleys wife. Further on in the
extract you can see that Curleys wife begins to moan about how shes doing nothing whilst
everybody else is out. For example it says - Satiday night. Everbody out doin sompin!
Everbody An what am I doing? Steinbeck shows here how lonely Curleys wife is because she
is a woman and that she only has a bunch of bindle stiffs to talk to. This quote again
emphasises her loneliness living in the ranch, because no one in the ranch talked to her. They
phrase Satiday Night- this means ever Curley had left her and went to a cat house, when he
has his wife. This would make Curleys wife unimaginably lonely and angry. This connects back
to when, she says, her husband is not friendly and that she doesnt like him. This would in turn
create a lot of sympathy towards women and Curleys wife living in the 1930s America. During
the last few minutes of her life, I would say, she had a good time talking out to Lennie. Her
loneliness and desperation had come to an end, as she spoke over-joyingly to Lennie.
Everything she said tumbled out in passion of communication shows that Curleys wife is very
desperate to talk about her unhappy marriage and about her dreams that seemed beyond
herself. Moreover, it also shows us that her motives are not sexually and that she only needed
someone to talk to as this time they manage to have a decent conversation without humiliation.
Overall, at the beginning Curleys wife was seen as a seductive temptress and as we analysed
her through the way she is presented, we have understood how Steinbeck has chosen to
portrait women in the 1930s. Shed been called a jailbait and insulted by saying Curley had
yella-jackets and Curleys pants is just crawlin with ants But, now we can understand that she
only wanted to make herself look nice so that she could have a half decent conversation with
poepl about herself. But even after all this, after her death, she was again referred to as a God
damn tramp and tart and received less sympathy for her death by her husband because the
only thing he was interested in was killing Lennie. Is this what a life of a young girl supposed to
be like?
In conclusion, John Steinbeck uses different methods to present Curleys wife and women in the
1930s. I feel Steinbeck uses Curleys wife as a representation of injustice in the 1930s America.
He also represents the character of the dead girl as manipulative; however I feel he only does
this to make us feel sympathy to Curleys wife and women in the 1930s. I also feel that

Steinbeck uses the nameless character as a reflection on men in the 1930s as they are
manipulative yet despise Curleys wife because she is manipulative; they do not realise that
they made her, into the way she is. I feel that Of Mice and Men, represents the stereotypical
women in the 1930s to an excellent standard. But, this book certainly left me wondering: How
different would Curleys wife be, if she had an identity? Caring husband? a few friends?
Her desperation to speak, her loneliness towards everything would have changed into
something favourable to women living in the 1930s America.

How Curleys wife is presented in Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck

The novel Of Mice and Men is set in the 1930s, slap bang in the middle of the Great
Depression. This allowed Steinbeck to explore the new characteristics of the citizens of
California as they altered along with their ever changing country, and these citizens, must
therefore include the women, in this storys case, Curleys wife. For Steinbeck the woman was
somewhat of an obstacle to incorporate, as the bulk of the narrative is set in a ranch. However
he overcomes this by introducing her as an attachment or a belonging to one of the workers,
using the apostrophe to create the effect of Curleys wife belonging to Curley. This is a very
effective way of including every aspect of the 1930s without bending the truth to make the story
work. At the time of the books setting, women were treated very differently in America to the
way they are today. They were treated more as objects than beings, and acted only as
possessions to their husbands. This is reflected perfectly in Steinbecks only female character,
and her personality sums up everything an average woman stood for in the early 20th century.
To help us understand Curleys wifes position, Steinbeck uses Thematic Function. This is when
specific themes are suggested through certain adjectives or phrases. In this characters case,
these themes include flirtatious, ridiculous and humble.
Curleys wife is introduced a short while after Curley, which makes sense seeing as her so
called name would suggest she is an accessory of sorts belonging to him. Her tragic death is in
fact foreshadowed on two occasions, and so the more observant reader would be wary that
something similar to what had happened in the past was likely to be repeated. The first example
of this forewarning is presented to the reader in the form of conversation, between George and
Slim. They are discussing the oddity that George and Lennie travel together, when George
divulges on the path that has led them to the ranch. He tells Slim of Curleys obsession with all
nice things, He wants to touch everything he likes, and of how this strange habit had led
him to a young girls dress. When he reaches out and touches it, the girl squawks and in the
confusion Lennie just tightens his grip, that gets Lennie all mixed up, and he holds on. This
foreshadows Curleys Wifes manslaughter because the details are very similar. He touches the

girls dress (hair), but when she gets agitated and upset, he just carries on holding on to her.
The difference between the two occasions is that in the case of the girl in Weed George was
around to save her, whereas at the ranch, George wasnt there to sock him over the head with
a fence picket. The second incident was very soon before the girls own death. This was
related to the puppy that Lennie had been given, as he had petted it too hard and it had been
crushed in his mammoth hands. Just as he had settled it in the hay, Curleys wife entered the
barn, and from that moment her doom was sealed. They were alone, and there were no
distractions. The final trigger was Curleys wifes comment of My hair is soft and fine. Here
feel right here. From there Lennie became hypnotised by her luscious locks, and forgot
himself, as he had in Weed. And with no George to save the day, the girls days were numbered.

The effect that this variety of themes has on the reader is that they feel sorry for her as she
seems to be misunderstood by everyone. This includes Candy, Curleys married a tart,
George, Shes a rattrap if ever I saw one, and Whit, I bet she even gives the stable buck the
eye. Steinbeck also suggests she was misunderstood in childhood, when she tells Lenny,
my ol lady wouldnt let memy ol lady stole it. This suggests her relationship with her
mother wasnt that strong. Curley doesnt really seem to have an opinion on the subject of his
wife. He doesnt really seem to notice her, and certainly doesnt appreciate her for being
anything more than his possession. Evidence of this is when Slim is with Curleys wife and
Curley is positive that his wife is cheating on him with Slim. He thinks Slims with his wife, dont
he? said George. Looks like it, said whit. This suggests that Curley doesnt trust her, and is
therefore not in a close relationship with her. Also, when Curley finds out his wife is dead, his
first reaction is to find Lenny, who killed her. He doesnt go to see her, or show any signs that
her death has upset him, and when Slim suggests, Maybe youd better stay here with your
wife , Curley is adamant that he should be the one to shoot Lenny. Both of these quotes tell us
that Curley wasnt really in love with his wife, and only wants to shoot Lenny because he had a
grudge against him, perhaps because he was bigger than him, as Candy had said in the
beginning, He hates big guys. The first description we are given of Curleys wife is actually
from Candy, who doesnt have much to say, except for the fact that shes a tart. The reader
would automatically believe Candy because they read nothing else to make them think
otherwise until her first appearance, which is when the reader begins to wonder what to believe.
Whits comment later on doesnt tell us much, but when Curleys wife comes looking for Curley
and she asks if Candy has seen him, Candy responds sourly Curley aint been here.
Curleys wifes wit is revealed when she replies, They left all the weak ones here, after
realising they had all gone out.
The character of Curleys wife is greatly juxtaposed. In the beginning all we see of her is
flirtatious and tarty, and this is mainly because in the beginning of the novel all the reader has to
go on in terms of who Curleys wife is, is opinion, (Candys and Whits). When she does appear,

the first image the reader pictures is the description Steinbeck gives, which is, although
glamorous, quite ridiculous. She dresses like a star she wore red mules, on the insteps of
which were little bouquets of ostrich feathers but bizarre pictures are injected into the readers
minds by Steinbecks comment of, Her hair hung like sausages. This word completely confuses
the reader, who, after this comment, is clutching at straws as to who this woman is. Also, her
plain house dress reflects her true status, which is far from the one in which her heeled shoes
belong. The effect that this had on the reader is that shes a dreamer and doesnt want to accept
her true working class status. On one hand, she makes an effort with her visage fully made
up _ but on the other hand, she is wearing a housedress with heels, and her hair seems a little
ridiculous. This subtle form of juxtaposition encourages the reader to question Whit and Candys
opinions of her, as they had not proposed she was ridiculous, but instead a tart. The readers
suspicions that she isnt what she is made out to be are confirmed when in her last few minutes
she tells Lenny her life story. When Lenny cuts in, Steinbecks description of her response is,
She went on with her story quickly, before she could be interrupted. This suggests shes needy,
and wants to be listened to. This is another theme that Steinbeck uses as an undercurrent,
throughout most of the narrative. Probably the best use of juxtaposition in the narrative is just
after Curleys wife has died, before she has been found. the meanness and the plannings
and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, her face
was sweet and young. In a split second, the girls very nature appears to be overturned.
However, I think it more than that. I think that Steinbeck intended for that girls true character to
be revealed in that second. For without her breath, there is no one to cover up the pretty young
girl who is the real Curleys wife. She is innocent and vulnerable, and is finally at rest, and is no
longer making an effort to be someone she isnt.
As previously mentioned, Steinbeck uses Thematic function to help express Curleys wifes
nature, and as this character is greatly juxtaposed in terms of her personality, and therefore so
must be her themes. In terms of the American dream, many may say she is stereotypical in
terms of her aspirations and hopes for the future. She is very aspirational and very optimistic in
terms of what she thinks she can achieve, and like many men and women of her time,
Steinbeck sets her standards higher than is realistic. However what makes her different to the
rest is that she has been close to her dream on numerous occasions. The first of the many
themes which is presented to us is flirtatious. We hear this from Candy, and the theme is
continued in her first appearance, when she speaks playfully. This quote also introduces the
second theme, which is confidence. Along side this point, this theme is suggested in numerous
ways in her first appearance, including the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. A
girl was standing there . The fact that she is blocking the light draws attention to herself, and
the reader pictures her silhouette in the doorway, defined, and bold. She stands out, and is the
centre of attention. The fact that she is made up suggests she makes an effort, and when she
smiles archly the mischievous, flirty theme is reintroduced, as well as continuing the confidence
theme. If it were just these themes that were used in her introductory scene, the readers mind

would be made on the womans character, but the humble theme is thrown into the mix when
Steinbeck comments on her house dress, which is plain and dull compared to her glamorous
footwear and make up. The theme of humble does in fact continue right through the novel until
her death, when she explains her modest childhood to Lenny. We sense the modesty of her
childhood because of the fact that she mentions being given chances to go to Hollywood, by
actors that see her talent, He says hes gonna put me in the movies. Soon hes got back to
Hollywood and says hes gonna write about it. I never got that letter. The fact that her only way
into Hollywood was through meeting people suggests that she wasnt in the right position to be
in Hollywood, whether it was financially or because of her social status. In her death, Curleys
wife is described as simple, which could be perceived as being humble, and so although this
theme is the quietest, it is the one which continues throughout the novel.
Steinbecks concept of less is more works wonders for Curleys wife. The reader is left to make
their own opinions of the character and are not mouth fed her true personality. One example of
Steinbecks economical method of writing is Curleys wifes name. The fact that no name is
mentioned throughout the narrative doesnt initially jump out, because it is, supposedly just a
reference. However, when one does notice it, it becomes apparent that it is on purpose and is
there to add to the mystery of Curleys wife. This character is by far the most interesting in the
novel, and is also the most developed, simply because her personality is on so many levels, in
terms of her flirtatious quality, but also her humble nature. Different readers react differently to
this character depending on their feelings towards her different sides, for example the reader
may not warm to her if they do not agree with her flirty nature, however those more sympathetic
souls may see her softer side, and empathise with her. I think Steinbeck included this character
because it is the one that is so often missed out of novels or tales. She is someone who
appears to be unpleasant, but has a sweeter side to her, unlike most of her kind, who appear to
be nice, but are in fact something different altogether.

How does Steinbeck present other peoples attitudes towards Curleys

The fact that when George said to Curleys wife well he aint now brusquely shows how he felt
towards Curleys wife. The way she acted and looked seemed to immediately entice Lennie,
which is what I assume happened with the woman in Weed whose dress he touched. This made
George angry because he didnt want Lennie to mess this job up for them like he did with the
last one, so he wanted to get rid of Curleys wife as fast as possible so Lennie couldnt get into
any trouble being around her.The fact that he doesnt mind being short with her, talking
brusquely, shows that he wanted her to leave, he didnt want another mans wife around to

prevent either of him and Lennie being accused of anything. It also shows he had a narrowminded idea of women. It didnt matter that he wasnt showing her respect whilst talking to her
because she was only a woman and didnt really deserve his respect.
The very moment that Curleys wife entered the bunk house, Lennie was fascinated by her. As
soon as he saw her his eyes moved down over her body which lets us know he found her
attractive. This is another example of Lennie not being fully aware of everything. All of the other
men, bar Slim, didnt want anything to do with Curleys wife because they knew she was
attention seeking and a flirt which could get any of them in trouble. Lennie doesnt pick up on
this and just sees this pretty woman craving attention, which he is willing to give.
Curleys wife lived on a farm surrounded by men that didnt want anything to do with her, yet she
was always heavily made up. This seems a bit silly when put into context, even if she did used
to want to be a movie star, It does, however, give us insight into the way she felt about herself.
She obviously felt that these men had no interest in women as intellectually equal so tried to
pretty herself in hope for some attention that she craved so badly. All she wanted was to be
noticed and it seemed her personality wasnt getting her anywhere so she tried to make the men
fancy her. She believed in her looks but not her personality.
The only colour in this passage that Curleys wife is associated with is red. Red is known to be
the colour of danger. Red is the colour of the dress the woman in Weed wore and red is the
colour of blood, which would obviously have the connotation of death. I think Steinbeck uses red
as a technique of foreshadowing. He is telling us that Curleys wife should be associated with
danger, just like the woman in Weed. He is also telling us that she is associated with death
somewhere further into the novel.
The first time we meet Curleys wife is when she stands in the doorway of the bunkhouse cutting
off the sunshine. If you were to stop the sunshine in your life you would be stopping the good
things in your life. Curleys wife literally cuts off the sunshine from George and Lennie in this
passage by blocking it from coming through the doorway, but then later on in the novel she is
ultimately the person that stops the two men from pursuing their dream, the only thing keeping
each one of them happy.

How Curleys wife is presented in Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck

Curleys wife is a significant personality in the novel. John Steinbeck presents
her in different ways during the novel and uses different methods to

influence the readers judgement, for instance through her look, as she is a
complex character. Significantly Steinbeck makes it clear that nurture turns
her into the person she is in the novel, her nature is different. He uses
language to show us who she is as revealed by colour and light symbolism;
incongruity of her appearance and the setting; simile. For the majority of the
book she is labelled in a negative way as a treacherous, kittenish character
which could be interpreted as a replication of the way civilization observed
the character of women in the novel. Sometimes, Steinbeck includes
thoughts denouncing Curleys wife. He also points out some of her good
qualities. Due to this, readers can interpret for themselves if Steinbeck thinks
highly of her, or if he does not like her. Nevertheless later in the book
Steinbeck deploys the reader into seeing her as complex, and feeling
consideration for Curleys wife; revealing her as a victim, anxious and
secluded in a mans world. Although he may go back and forth on Curleys
wife, in the end, Steinbeck is mainly condemning her. Steinbeck explores her
as attractive towards man through her beauty and an attention seeker. In the
passage the first words that Steinbeck uses are that Both men glanced up,
and through this we are introduced to Curleys wife through her effect on
men and not through any notion of herself, which Steinbeck does to show us
she is only worthy for the use of men. The word glanced up shows that she
want men to look at her for she is has the beauty of an actress. Not extended
moment when Steinbeck exaggerates the rectangle of sunshine in the
doorway way cut off. Here, Steinbeck uses the light symbolically to highlight
how imposing she is and present the idea that she is the obstacle to a better
life. The image of Curleys wife casting a shadow across the bunkhouse hints
at trouble to come later in the novel. It soon becomes apparent that Curleys
wife is an outsider of the group when it states, A girl was standing there
looking in, hence is a metaphor for the segregation she senses. It could be
insightful of the gender roles at the time; women were only desired for mens
erotic desires rather than their company. One could also deduce it as how
likewise to a girl, (which she ironically is no longer), she is in search of
thoughtfulness and requires all eyes to be on her by standing in the sight of
the whole world and might be realised as attempting to listen in on their
conversation both very juvenile schemes. Therefore Steinbeck presents
Curleys Wife in Of Mice and Men as someone who is very eye-catching and
courtesy inquirer. On the other hand, he portrays her as isolated and
discriminated by men as she is excluded for being female, which sometimes
lead to violence. This is illustrated when she is called tart, jailbait, and
bitch by the men on the ranch; henceforth the ranch is a very hostile and
misogynistic place. Curleys Wife is an outsider and seems very out of place.
She is frequently found in examine for companionship on the ranch as her
recently found marriage does not give her the warmth she desires, as she
states to Lennie I dont like Curley he aint a nice fella, and due to this she
often tries to cooperate with the other men although she is never allowed as
they think a ranch aint no place for a girl. Carlson also states of how a
women should be at home where she belongs. The fact that she is

excluded from a place of physical work is symptomatic of how women were

exposed during the 1930s. They were not predictable to do work, but in its
place stay at home and raise a family. Curley wife feels apprehensive
because of the solitude she feels and it is made clear she is exasperated with
this condition, none of them care how I gotta live. Nonetheless, the reader
is presented with a side to an apparently playful and occasionally vindictive
character. In chapter 5, Steinbeck permits Curleys Wifes character to
eloquent emotions of loneliness, I get lonely and I get awful lonely. The
use of repetition is used to give emphasis to the remoteness and frustration
of not being able to talk to nobody but Curley, her hindrance which
incessantly exteriors as she speaks to Lennie. Moreover, for the period of the
scene Steinbeck describes as such And then her words tumbled out in a
passion of communication, as though she hurried before her listener could be
taken away. The word tumbled recommends her frantic need to
communicate to people, at the same time as the expression passion
demonstrates her authority and strength needed to interconnect. Yet, what is
predominantly conspicuous is she is used to people walking away from her
when she speaks, this generates such consideration for her. In this chapter
she is also presented as a moderate and approachable character, as
Steinbeck describes she consoled him. Dont you worry any [] she
moved closer to him and spoke soothingly. The fact that she spoke
soothingly suggests that she has a kind nature, and asked in a maternal
way when Lennie needed such gentleness. The reader can then relate this
sudden behaviour transformation and her upcoming, but the syrupiness she
bounces off blurs the readers sight to floral it. All the way through the novel
as similar to Crooks, Curleys Wife is not named. This highlights her lack of
identity on the ranch and how she is viewed as the property of her husband
as well as the word live indicates that she also is a living human being who
wants to fulfil her dreams and desires but it would be impossible for her. As a
result of her insecurities, she tries to combat her loneliness and
sequestration by resorting to violence. Her vicious attacks on Crooks to
getting him strung up on a tree and the attacks on Lennie due to his
mental disability show how loneliness can not only change a person, but
destroy them. All of the emotions Curleys Wife encounters come as a result
of the loneliness she feels, and these clearly represent of what a terrifying
character she is. Therefore Steinbeck describes Curleys wife as isolated and
discriminate due to her gender of a female throughout the novel. Equally, at
the end of the novel, she is presented as innocent and purified from all the
trouble through the description of her appearance. This can be seen in
chapter 6 when Steinbeck explains Curley's wife lay with a half-covering of
yellow hay. And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the
ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and
simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her
reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. The curls, tiny
little sausages, were spread on the hay behind her head, and her lips were
parted. As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained

for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped
for much, much more than a moment. From this passage, the reader can
acknowledge the real Curleys wife but at the same time feel sorry for her as
her dream was unfulfilled. The phrase meanness (...) plannings ()
discontent () were all gone from her face shows that she is no longer
vicious and dangerous as all the negativity vanished. Most importantly the
phrase roughed cheeks and reddened lips conveys that her dream is
unfulfilled and the repetition of stopped to emphasise stillness and the
feelings of time standing still. Therefore Steinbeck does not present her as a
negative character, but at the time of her death he shows the reader the real
her as it was not her nature but nurture that made her what she was. In
contrast Curleys Wife at first is portrayed as a revolting unpleasant woman.
Curleys Wife is described by Steinbeck many times as roughed lips and
wide-spaced eyes. Her fingernails were red. this causes the reader to think
of her as he says so. Nonetheless, despite these brutal views of her, the
reader is presented with a side to a seemingly flirtatious and sometimes
malevolent character. The repetition of the colour red denotes the fact that
she is very dangerous and cause lot of trouble as the colour red is frequently
associated to blood and murder which foreshadows the scenes later on in the
novel. An alternative interpretation could be that red is also represent as the
colour of love and she is wanting to be love, but many readers would link it
to her actress personality as most actress love to dress a lot. Not so long,
Steinbeck describes her hair as her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like
sausages, and this simile shocks the reader because sausages are disliked
and filthy, so linking it to her means that she is also disliked. Furthermore as
sausages do not match with hair, the same way she is not suitable for a
place like the ranch. Therefore Steinbeck portrays Curleys wife as a woman
who is dangerous and disliked by linking her with words that supports the

How does Steinbeck shape the reader's impression of Curley's Wife?

Curley's wife is a complicated, main character in Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men". She is
first introduced in chapter two and ultimately causes the end of the whole novel, her naivity and
flirtatiousness lead to her inexorable death at the hands of Lennie, bewildered and scared by
her forwardness and eventual panic.
Steinbeck first introduces her through Candy, the swamper, who describes her to George and
Lennie from his frame of mind. The way that Curley's wife is introduced through the rumours
going around the ranch means that the reader has a very biased view of Curley's wife before
she has even entered the story. Candy tells George that she's "got they eye" meaning that she

is flirtatious and slightly immoral. Steinbeck makes sure that we are told she flirts with other men
immediately after Candy tells George and Lenny that she is married to Curley. This means the
readers are made to believe that Curley's wife is an unprincipled "tart" which is reinforced upon
her first appearance.
Curley's wife is seen for the first time standing in the doorway of the bunkhouse, asking the men
about the whereabouts of her husband, which the readers soon discover to be a feeble excuse
to converse with the ranchers. Steinbeck describes her as wearing a "red cotton house dress"
with a pair of mules that are decorated with "bouquets of red ostrich feathers" this is used to
accentuate her sexual presence as the colour red, which is seen repeatedly whenever
Steinbeck describes Curley's wife's clothing. Red is often associated with love, passion or one
of the seven sins lust. Furthermore the "bouquets of red ostrich feathers" would have been
incredibly extortionate in the time that "Of Mice and Men" was set; and not only does she wear
them on her feet, she does not mind wearing them in the "Dust Bowl" emphasising her
desperation for attention. This highlights for the reader that she is willing to conceivably ruin her
best or only shoes to lure the men, despite her husband.
Steinback does not only describe her as a "tart", later on in the novel in Crook's room he
describes her as being thoroughly menacing. Upon arrival in Crook's room, Steinbeck makes it
prominent how scared Crooks and Candy are of her when they "scowled down away from her
eyes". Both Crooks and Candy avoid eye contact with Curley's wife, suggesting that both men
are agitated around her or they believe that they do not have to dignify her with eye contact.
Steinbeck's use of the word "scowling" means that either way, her presence displeases the two
men. After Crook's defends himself she easily reminds him in a series of minacious comments
her power over him; "I could get you strung up so easy". After this Crook's becomes distant and
very submissive because of her threats. Nevertheless, in the midst of her rant it is made clear to
the readers the reason of her hostility. Curley's wife says that she would like to "bust him", when
she refers to Curley. The fact that she openly admits that she would not mind hurting her
husband hints at domestic abuse. This supported by the fact that throughout the novel,
Steinbeck constantly refers to Curley as violent. This creates the idea that Curley gives her
reason to hurt him. If she does suffer from domestic violence this could give her an excuse for
some of her hostility, as she would simply being mirroring the environment she is in whilst with
her husband.
Steinbeck makes sure that Curley's wife's last appearance is just as dramatic as she is and has
a drastic effect on how the reader views her and the novel. The section opens with Lennie sitting
in the barn, while the other ranchers are out playing horseshoe and it isn't long till he is
approached by Curley's wife. Steinbeck wittily explains an intriguing part of her character
through irony. She dreams of being in the spotlight whilst all she ever does is cast shadows on
other people and attract unfavourable attention. When she first enters the barn Steinbeck says

"sunshine in the doorway was cut off" not only depicting her as a negative influence but also
foreshadowing her dismal end in the barn. However, as she reluctantly opens up to Lenne,
undeterred by his lack of interest, the reader slowly gains more knowledge about Curley's wife's
personality. The reader learns about her innocence and immense need for freedom and her
ambition to fulfill her dream, despite her current financial status. The true taintlessness of her
character is shown clearly to the reader only after her death when Steinbeck describes her as
"sweet and young" and the "ache for attention was all gone for her face". Steinbeck's use of the
word ache suggests that Curley's wife's desire for attention was so intense that it mentally
hurting her, this is true in the sense that it hurt her personality. Steinbeck mirrors this effect in
the atmosphere of the barn he says that "sun streaks where high on the walls" contradicting
what happened earlier when Curley's wife entered.
However, despite all the discoveries that happen upon Curely's wife's personality in her final
scene, her death is caused by her everlasting need for attention. In that once Lennie confesses
that he revels in petting soft things she offers him her hair to pet, despite him telling her that
many items that he pets have an untimely death, sealing her fate.
Steinbeck makes it obvious that Curley's wife's ill temper developed from incessant betrayal
from men and an unquenchable thirst for attention, fueling her dream of becoming an actress.
This is shown throughout the novel when Curley's wife regularly mentions that she "coulda been
in the movies" unfortunately the letter that would have started her career, promised to her by a
producer she met at the Riverside Dance Palace, failed to arrive. Ingenuously, Curley's wife
convinced herself that her overprotective aunt had stolen the letter from her, leading Curley's
wife to leave home. She believed that her aunt was holding her back and told herself that her
dream was so song that she could not let anything stand in her way. After leaving home she met
Curley, whose own anger, matched with her lingering anger caused by her aunts betrayal and
that lack of attention that Curley gave her forced her to hide her true personality and bury it
under layers. Steinbeck ultimately presents Curley's wife to the anger as an angry women,
who's suggestive clothing and flirtatious body language draws the attention she desires and
never used to receive; however further analysis shows she is much more complex.
Additionally, Curley's wife is viewed as Curley's possession on the ranch, much like a trophy
wife. Steinbeck uses this to his advantage and writes the other characters as never mentioning
her real name, suggesting that she did not have a close personal relationship with anyone on
the ranch, including her husband. Through association with boss and his son, she gains
authority but no power, however the association also prevents her from starting a friendship or
relationship with any of the ranchers as she is seen as a woman of power; despite that fact she
is has little rights and even less freedom. Her loneliness made her cold toward others and made
her make herself feel better by knocking down those lower then her on the ranch. Steinbeck
shows this when she enters Crook's room and notes that "they left all the weak ones here"

showing that she believes herself to be higher in stature than Crooks, Candy and Lenny even
though she is deemed so unimportant that Steinbeck does not honour her with a name.
To summarise, I believe that while Steinbeck creates Curley's wife to be a highly immoral,
suggestive and flirtatious, despite having a husband, she was shaped by her environment and
experiences. Steinbeck does an exceptional job at creating sympathy for Curley's wife through
her past and her relationship with Curley or her lack of one. His descriptions of scenery and
characters, personality and appearance, helps create sympathy. Using these same techniques
he give subtle hints that she is now showing her true personality.

How does the author show sympathy for Curley's wife?

On the ranch there is a well known woman merely referred to as Curleys Wife. As the
characters develop we find that she is not in fact the unimportant, nameless character we first
perceive her as, but rather she is a relatively complex one, with much more to her than we first
gather, causing us to feel sympathy for her later in the novel. In this essay I will state how John
Steinbeck influenced the reader to feel sympathy for Curley's wife, especially after making the
reader prejudice towards her.
Steinbeck creates sympathy for Curley's wife in numerous ways, one being her name. The fact
that she never has a name outside of the reference to her husband clearly shows the reader
that her identity is surrendered to a heartless husband. Evidence of this is when she admits that
her husband 'aint a nice man' and that she never truly wanted to marry him. This leaves the
reader with a impression of a unhappy, isolated woman to the extent that there is sympathy
regardless of her outrageous behavior towards Crooks. Alternatively, the lack of a name for this
woman could could suggest she is insignificant and not as important of a character as George,
Lennie or any of the other men on the ranch. It could also be referring to how during the Great
Depression, women were oppressed and treated less equally. Steinbeck may have portrayed
Curley's wife in this light to allow the reader to recognize the inferior role of women at that time.
The lack of name relegates Curley's wife to an insignificant status like a lot of women in a 1930s
Steinbeck enables the reader to see Curleys Wife through migrant worker Candys eyes on
their first encounter her, as in his dialogue he refers to her as a 'tart'. Through his words, we
develop an initial perception of Curley's Wife as as a bit of a 'floozie'. Furthermore, Candy
effectively accuses her of acting disloyal to her newly married husband Curley by saying, 'she
got the eye' for other men. The word 'tart' suggests she presents herself in an ostentatious
manner. Before even being introduced to the woman, the reader is convinced she's to blame for
anything that goes wrong in Solidad. Her physical appearance of ...full, rouged lips..., as well

as fingernail painted red and elaborate hair, emphasize our preconceptions of her.
I believe her attire is very significant to how we perceive her. She is said to be 'heavily made up'
in primary colours (making her almost impossible to ignore or dismiss). This could be interpreted
as her silent cry out for attention due to her being so isolated and lonely, after all there are no
other woman on the ranch. Her appearance is portrayed as one of an actress or someone who
has means of great luxury, this is why she is so incongruous on the ranch as she is not your
typical housewife.. Her mien could also be construed as though she believes she is above any
other woman who lives on a ranch, indicating she wants escape from her current lifestyle as her
attire is suited for anything but her own. The description of her face being, 'heavily made up'
could also propose the idea that she is insecure with her natural complexion. In other words, her
face is a mask - it's fake and not the real her. This makes a big connection of her ambitions of
being an actress, a person that is constantly pretending to be someone they're not. All of this
contributes to the reader sympathising with her as she is so hopelessly insecure.
On the other hand, Curleys Wifes appearance could be seen as naivety, and simply desire to
be appreciated/noticed. Steinbeck may have portrayed Curleys Wife with' wide eyes' to
illustrate her as gullible or even that she is searching for something - which I believe was to be
appreciated. If the text is analysed thoroughly, Steinbeck leaves subtle traces of evidence to
help the reader understand her behaviour and fashionistic choices. 'He says he was gonna put
me in the movies' is evidence of the 'dream life' Curley's wife believed she was destined to have
as she details twice ' I coulda been in movies... I coulda sat in big hotels' had her chance not
have been stolen. This theme of lost opportunity or shattered dreams is often repeated
throughout the story. The delusional mindset that leads to her cruel nature is the theme that
makes the reader sympathetic to her.
Red is a primary colour therefore people are attracted to it hence why Curleys Wife wearing a
lot of red may symbolise she desperately wants the spotlight (attention) - much like many film
stars. The description of 'full rouged lips' could be evidence of her attempt to be appreciated by
the ranch workers; by drawing their attention to her lips it forces them to listen to what she has
to say. Furthermore, another connotation of the colour is danger. A reason for Steinbeck
portraying her as an associate of this colour may have been the foreshadowing of the blood that
was to be shed. Finally, it is also a reminder of the girl in Weed who had a 'red velvet' dress that
Lennie grabbed which caused him and George to go on the run, which we also know happens
at the end of this novel. I believe Steinbeck structures Curley's Wife's character very intelligently
as this subtle foreshadow indirectly makes a connection of the beginning and ending of the
novel, also relating to her ambitions of being a movie star by the emphasis of a red 'velvet'
dress. This indistinct description is often unnoticed causing the 'reality vs: fantasy' connection to
be dismissed between Curley's wife wearing a 'cotton' dress which immediately makes her no
more than a housewife, however much she tries.

Also on Curley's Wife's first appearance, the reader is made apparent of her alleged promiscuity
as, she put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was
thrown forward, This suggestive and provocative body language justifies Candy's statement of
her and is hard evidence to the reader that she in fact a tart. However, we know this is not true.
Curley's wife shows similar traits to Crooks by standing in the door frame as he is isolated from
it too. This causes the reader to feel sympathetic for her as she is secluded for being conceived
as something she actually isn't. Through no fault of her own, the men do not want to associate
with her due them believing she is 'jailbate' 'and a 'rattrap'. This infers that the men are scared of
her, something that frustrates her because she can't comprehend why the men's attitudes to her
are so negative. The 'rattrap' could also be a forewarning of her escape to freedom which was
only achievable by death. This is because once the rat trap' (ie her) had been set off, it could no
longer be used again, so effectively she committed suicide. I think that Curley's wife and a rat
are arguably similar as they are both hated by their relative society for being who / what they
are, which is completely unfair. Also, rats are relatively small animals, this could link to Curley's
wife as she feels and is perceived as dramatically insignificant on the Boss' ranch.
Curleys' wife both talks and acts playfully and flirtatiously in front of the other workers. In my
opinion she behaves in this manner because her sex is her only weapon to gain attention.
Steinbeck could have been trying to make a point of her actions being relative to the era she
lived in. I believe he deliberately portrayed her in this light with the intentions of making the
reader feel sympathetic towards her in later chapters, but also to make the reader feel
apologetic and penitent for labeling and being prejudice towards her.
On one of her 'looking for Curley' routines she says, 'They left all the weak ones here' alluding to
the three men, all 'weak' in their respective ways. However there is irony in this comment
because she is seen as unworthy of a name thus why the reader can conclude that she's
unimportant. It is also ironic because she was left behind by all the men too, 'Even Curley'. This
causes the reader to feel sympathy for her as she is aware that she is just as marginalized as
the 'weak' men. Evidence of this is when she rhetorically questions them. Here, the author is not
only trying to show that Curley is a major obstacle in her having a proper conversation but
Steinbeck is also emphasizing the fragmented relationship the couple have.The lonely and
hostile side of the woman is revealed when she admits to feeling a shameless dissatisfaction
with her life which inevitably causes the reader to feel remorse for her. Curley's wife is again
shown to be dislikeable by expressing bitterness when reffering to the men as 'bindle stiffs- a
nigger an' a dum dum" The author presents her intense anger by stating "breathless with
indignation" which explains her frustration.
Finally, Steineck creates sympathy for Curley's wife in the way that he portrayed her death as
her true vulnerability is unmasked. 'Everone knowed youd mess things up.' were the words

from Candy when left in the barn with her body. The fact that none of the ranch workers, or even
her husband, seemed to be particularly saddened of her death causes the reader to feel
sympathy for her because it cements just how unappreciated she was. We finally see her for the
young victim she is as 'the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache were
all gone from her face'. This repetition of discontent symbolizes that death was her escape
because she is now away from being negatively labelled and misinterpreted. Steinbeck uses
imagery to present her at peace after her death as she is described as, '...very pretty...sweet
and young...' This causes the reader to feel sympathetic as the character we first perceived her
as is gone. Also, the description of 'young' furthered my sympathy towards her as it suggests to
me she had a short and unfulfilled life. My sympathy for her is also heightened in this chapter
because her vulnerability is now clearly identifiable, for example she failed to understand the
danger of Lennie - despite the evidence of his violent power in her husband's mutilated hand
and the dead pup he is grasping. The basic idea in Steinbeck's description of Curley's wife's
corpse is that in death her beauty can finally be appreciated. Furthermore, who can't feel
sympathy for somebody that is dead from no fault of their own?
Personally, I feel most sympathetic towards Curley's wife more than any other character in the
book because she was in a constant battle to be accepted. What makes me most sympathetic
though is that in finally letting her guard down to confide in Lennie, she was murdered. Even in
her death she is nothing more than a scapegoat as she is referred to as 'no good' by Candy.
She was never considered as a person, only as Curley's showcase trophy. Curley's wife, as
Steinbeck depicts her, does not share Lennie's innocence. Steinbeck rests a measure of blame
for the killing on the victim herself which causes the reader to yet again pity her unfortunate life.
Moreover, I feel sympathetic towards her because her dreams were futile and it was only at
death that she could be rid of all the male dominance that corrupted and controlled her life. After
all, it was a man who gave her the 'false hopes entity' that followed her to her life on the ranch,
and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't leave the past behind. She 'had the eye'
restlessly searching for true love and affection. Steinbeck gave Curley's wife a circular structure
that represents no matter how hard she tried to progress to her ambitions, her cycle always
involved her finishing at her starting point, therefore no progress could ever made because her
life was the 'beginning of the end'.

John Steinbeck once said of Curleys wife, Shes a nice girl, not a
floozy. How does Steinbeck present Curleys wife in Of Mice and
In this essay I will show how Steinbeck presents Curleys wife in a number of ways throughout
the novel Of Mice and Men, showing both how she is portrayed as a nice girl as well as a
floozy. This novel was set during the great depression and is written around two key themes of

the American dream, which every ranch hand owned their own patch of land, and loneliness,
the only common feeling that each individual in the novel feared. Loneliness was the main
theme that caused Curleys wife to be interpreted in a negative way by the other ranch men.
The very first time we meet Curleys wife is by the narrative description, in the doorway of the
bunkhouse where her image is hidden behind a darkened silhouette standing in the doorway
a rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. This is a suggestion that shell be trouble
as she brings a sudden darkness into the bunkhouse. The metaphor creates an image of the
sunlight being extinguished by her and casting a dark shadow over the men in the bunkhouse. It
is also a demonstration of femme fatale as she appears so be a symbol of danger with
Steinbeck presenting her introduction dramatically, as a seductress who will only bring
misfortune. Another aspect of Curleys wife we discover in her this same section is the fact that
she wears a lot of red full, rouged lips wore a cotton house dress and red mules. Red is
a seductive colour which is often associated with danger or threat Steinbeck successfully
portrays this and instantly colours the readers view on Curleys wife.
Curleys wifes body language suggests a lot about her character in this passage leaned
against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward. She seeks attention; this is made
clear as later in the novel we discover that shes experiencing a loveless relationship with her
newly wed husband. The fact that she dresses inappropriately for a ranch suggests that she has
a lot of spare time on her hands and uses this time to groom. She takes pride in her appearance
and only seeks to impress those around her.
We only know more about Curleys wife through the comments of the men at the ranch.
Everyone refers to her as Curleys wife so doesnt have her own identity, therefore is not
addressed as a person but as a possession. Prejudice leads to her loneliness as she has no
rights and feels isolated. Every worker on the ranch appears to try to avoid Curleys wife as they
fear the consequences that Curley could put upon them if he discovers anything suspicious.
Because of this, shes a lonely character and seeks attention from others as Curley doesnt give
her any; however, she sometimes comes across as being desperate without it being her
intention. One of the workers on the ranch describes her as a tart and a woman that would sell
out for twenty bucks this would influence the other workers not to get involved with her by
making Curleys wifes life on the ranch a challenging one in order for people to understand her
intentions of being friendly rather than desperate.
The negative feelings towards Curleys wife start changing after she reveals more about herself
in Crooks room. She claims to be looking for Curley but after cold responses from the men she
starts talking about her desire to live her own life. However, she shows signs of lack of
sensitivity by referring to the men as leaving the weak ones here. Although she has a low
social status, she takes advantage of them and finds them an easy target. While discussing the

life she hoped for, we discover that she has a dream of her own like everyone else on the ranch
- he couldve put me in pitchers. Her dream has been shattered just like the others on the
ranch. Dreams were what people lived for; Curleys wifes dream has gone therefore she has no
motivation to life. The reader starts to sympathize with her until she starts verbally attacking the
men and implies her apathetic feelings towards her newly wed husband. She can be a racist
and cruel character a nigger an a dum-dum and a lousy ol sheep. Verbally insulting
Crooks and many more makes her feel as if she has authority over others by putting them
down. Steinbeck seems to suggest that she treats people in a callous way because thats the
way shes been treated. The author reminds us of the terrible consequences of loneliness on
peoples lives, one of the key themes of the novel. The last feeling we have towards Curleys
wife in this passage is one about her being mistreated. Her use of words sometimes offend the
others moving from smiling at them. to referring Crooks as a nigger. In her nature she isnt
a mean character and her intentions are mostly innocent. However, she responds to the way
she is treated, suggesting that shes not a floozy but someone who has been misunderstood. At
this stage in the novel, we begin feeling sympathy towards Curleys wife whos ended up in a
loveless marriage.
By the final scene in the novel our view on Curleys wife has significantly changed. She appears
a vulnerable character her words tumbled out in a passion of communication as though she
hurried before her listener could be taken away. She rarely gets the opportunity to speak to
anyone about her past and her feelings and she didnt want to miss this as Lennie was willing to
hear her story. She doesnt trust anyone on the ranch Well, I aint told this to nobody
before. This shows that she doesnt have the confidence to confide in anyone as no ones
shown an interest to have a friendship with her. Curleys wife doesnt intimidate Lennie as hes
not intimidating her and has the confidence to confide in him but feels a little uncertain about
Lennie at first Curleys wife moved away from him a little. However, she quickly gets
reassured and the desperation for friendship takes over which lead to serious consequences.
The reader gets a sense of her dislike towards Curley and how even the smallest things irritate
her Take Curley. His hair is jus like wire. She doesnt want to be with Curley but the fact that
her dream had been shattered had forced her to marry a man she didnt actually like. Even
though she knows how dangerous Lennie can be with delicate things, Curleys wife is still
desperate for attention and invites him to touch her soft hair. Curleys wife had no intention of
causing her own death from her flirtatious ways but the desperation of having a friendship was
too good an opportunity to pass. She wanted to feel loved and she experiences that for a
moment but the closer she got to the dream, the more likely it would end in tragedy. She was
clinging on to her dream and when she finally experienced what she longed for, she died; this is
true for many of the other characters and their dreams.
The significance of Curleys wifes death is quite important. Steinbeck gave her a peaceful death

as she was really a nice person but was portrayed badly by others. This is the first and only time
we see Curleys wife at peace. Her death reinforces the theme of friendship as all Curleys wife
was looking for was a companionship. She plays a big role in keeping peoples dreams alive as
when she dies, many others lose out on their own dreams e.g. Candy, George and Lennies
dreams are shattered as a consequence of the death. She also brought out a different side to
characters including Slim. Slim is a cool character and people respect him for treating everyone
equally, including Curleys wife however, as a contrast, her death brought out his gentle and
compassionate side. The readers feelings towards Curleys wife are now entirely sympathetic.
Curleys wife as a character remains consistent throughout the novel in the way she speaks and
behaves, however, our opinions of her change dramatically as we near the end of the book.
Steinbeck colours the readers first impression of her as the other characters refer to her as a
tart, floozy and a girl that would sell out for twenty bucks. We also have the impression that
she refuses to stick with her husband and would rather flirt with every other man on the ranch.
When we hear more of her voice, rather than the narrative and others perspectives, the reader
begins to feel sympathy for her. As we are never told her name she comes across as someone
who is the property of Curley and this is strongly portrayed when the new-comers are told to
not stray from him. Her dreams had been shattered very early in life and had forced her to get
married with her life cut short by her desire for human contact.
To conclude, Steinbeck presents Curleys wife in a number of ways throughout the novel. He
often colours our opinion of her at the start which is then completely changed by the end when a
lot more is revealed about her, making us feel sympathy rather than disdain.

How is Curleys Wife presented in of Mice and Men, Victim or Villan?

Curleys wife is the only women at the ranch in Of Mice and Men. She is
generally portrayed as a young, lonely, bored and childish girl. Baloney! is
her word. This single word shows that she thinks she is a movie star. No one
really talks like this. All the way through the book, it is evident this is how
she sees her life; unreal, like a movie and dramatic. Curleys wife is talked
about before she is seen in the book. The first actual mention of her is wife.
Already it has been established that she has no name, she is just Curleys
wife. The men see her as a women, not as a real person. The swamper gives
his opinion straight away on her. He immediately agrees that she is purty
but has got the eye. This shows that the men see her as just a pretty girl,
who means nothing. The fact that they mention she has the eye gives the
impression that the men have been watching her, and are curious about her,
as they have noticed this. This also shows that the men see her as
provocative, and the swamper gets this impression over to George straight
away, so all the book he treats her in a biased way, because of what was

said then. He then describes her as ...a tart. This is very discriminatory and
shows what most of the men think about her. They do not understand her, so
she must be a tart! The swamper also invited George to look her over. They
are treating her like a possession, not a human being. Curleys wifes first
appearance happens soon after George and Lennie hear about her. She
stands in the doorway looking in. This puts her immediately in place as the
outsider, always looking in, never part of the action. She is described as
heavily made up and this tells you a lot about her. There is no reason to be
heavily made up on a ranch, so she must have to much time on her hands.
The fact she is wearing so much makeup tells us that Curleys wife is bored.
Also her hair is in little rolled clusters, something which takes an extreme
amount of time, pointing further to the fact that she is bored. Her cotton
house dress and red mules are completely inappropriate dress for a ranch,
and are actually quite expensive, film star clothes, giving us the impression
that she thinks a lot about herself. When she speaks, it is evident she is
socially awkward, as she doesnt introduce herself or even say hello, just
states that she is lookin for Curley. Her voice is nasal, brittle, which is not
sexy, even though this is how she portrays herself through her makeup and
clothes. When George answers her, she doesnt leave, but asks Your the
new fellas... aint you? This shows that she wasnt actually looking for
Curley, she is just trying to start up a convocation and doesnt really know
how to do it, further pointing at the fact she is socially awkward. Also she
moves so her body is thrown forward, trying to show off her best assets to
the new guys, so she thinks a lot about herself and is a massive flirt!
However, this idea as changes when she bridles under Lennies eyes. This
shows that she doesnt actually like being looked at, and is uncomfortable
with men looking at her. Therefore, surely this points to the fact that she isnt
a tart! When she offers to go somewhere else, she says it playfully as if she
is wishing the men will ask her to stay, as she wants the company and again
is flirting. Throughout this, George has hinted that he wants her to go away
four times, but she is either ignorant and has not got the message or is just
plain lonely and doesnt care if they want his company or not. Her next
sentence, Nobody cant blame a person for lookin is very staged. Again, this
wording is only used in the movies and her line sounds fake and practised. It
is almost like she is play acting, and unreal. When Slim arrives, and tells her
straight that she cant be looking very hard she turns apprehensive and
hurries away. This shows that she is actually quite scared that the Slim
knows what she is up too, and also that she is quite scared of Curley. Her first
appearance confirms the stereotypes that were placed on her before we met
her. However, these stereotypes do not hold up through the book. Her
second appearance is in Crooks barn. She straight away gives her usual
excuse for being around the men any of you boys seen Curley? It is obvious
that she again is not really looking for Curley, just wants the company. Also
the word boys shows that she doesnt really considers Crooks Candy and
Lennie men, as they both have what she considered bad qualitys therefore
they are not real men. She again is heavily made up, which shows that she

is bored and has too much time on her hands. She calls Crooks, Candy and
Lennie the weak ones, even though Lennie is obviously far from weak. She
identifies them as weak because they are the unpopular ones, she knows
how to hurt them, but is only doing this as she is angry at being left behind
herself. By saying this she is also identifying herself as weak, this is why she
really said they left the weak ones behind, she is including herself in that.
Also by saying she knows where Curley is, I know where they all went, she
is admitting that she is not in Crooks room to look for him and that she is
just craving company. She regards them amusedly showing that she has no
respect for these weak men, before giving her view on mankind. When
Crooks mentioned her husband, she really lets off what she feels for him,
Swell guy, aint he? She brings up Curleys hand, as she wants the gossip,
as when she asks her face is interested. When she doesnt believe his
answer she says her favourite word, Baloney! This, as I said above, is a
childish and movie star attitude, showing that she thinks she is living in a
fairy tale. Next, she shows us how much contempt she feels for her life, An
what am I doin? She knows that she regrets marrying Curley and feels her
life is going nowhere. She then decided the only way to interest is to insult,
and called the men nigger, dum dum and lousy old sheep. She is taking
out her anger at her man being in the cat house and her life going down the
toilet and the men, who cant do anything about her. She doesnt even care
when Candy tells her where to go, just replies in her film star way with
Baloney showing she doesnt care a jot! She barely flinches when Candy
insults her, and turns her attentions to Lennie, where Lennie makes a fatal
slip up. The way she just turns her attention to Lennie shows that she is
actually hurt by what Candy has said, but is trying to hide it. She is quite
sensible with Lennie, but flips her anger on Crooks and threatens to get him
strung up on a tree. The fact that she needs to throw her anger on to
someone shows how reckless she is, and completely not in control of her own
emotions. When Lennie threatens to tell she says that Nobodyd listen to
you. She knows the mens weak points and are using their weakness to
keep herself safe, a bad quality in a person showing she is selfish. She leaves
when Crooks says the guys are back, further showing how scared she is of
Curleys wrath. Her final appearance is in the barn with Lennie, the place
where she dies. She came into the barn very quietly, showing she is sly and
sneaky. She is yet again heavily made-up wearing the cotton dress with
the mules. Again, this is completely unsuitable for the ranch and shows she
has too much time on her hands and she thinks she lives in a movie, where
she always has to be made up. She was quite near to Lennie, showing she
has no recognition for personal space and is awkward with people. She calls
him sonny boy which is again only a thing a movie star would say, and is
very patronising towards Lennie. From this you can tell that she really is
selfish, and doesnt realise how much her words can hurt people. She
laughed when Lennie refused to talk to her, she is either ignorant,
completely stupid, or doesnt care if Lennie wants her there or not! When he
refused again she knelt beside him; she will not take no for an answer! She

uses emotional blackmail on Lennie, as she says she gets awful lonely,
which shows she is very crafty and actually cleverer then she is made out to
be, though she doesnt use her intelligence for positive things. When she
sees the puppy; Why, hes dead! we see that she is chocked, and wary of
Lennie now. This also shows us that she has got a heart! When she starts
telling her story, neither of the two listen to each other. She doesnt seem to
care though, and refuses to see that Lennie isnt interested. We find out the
reason for her movie star addiction, and see her naivety as she actually
thinks the man wrote to her; I never got that letter...I always thought my ol
lady stole it. We find out she married out of spite; So I married Curley. This
explains her constant flirting with men, she does not love Curley in any way.
She is very materialistic as she wants them nice clothes like they [movie
stars] wear instead of the actual fame. This shows she doesnt really
understand what being famous is and thinks its all about nice clothes. When
she realises Lennie isnt listening she turns angrily on him. She thinks her
story is amazing, and that she really could be famous, and that everyone
should think her life is the most interesting thing in the world. She actually
moved away from him a little when he moves close to her, giving us
another view of her, that she is not a tart, and doesnt actually like men
being close to her! Overall, she dies because of her vanity. She invites Lennie
to feel her hair. She dies of her own stupidity, as she is too scared to shut
up. She dies because she is too naive, to trusting, and much too vain. Let
go, you let go! Steinbeck portrays her as a girl throughout the entire book.
Everytime he mentions her he calls her a girl giving us a contrast between
the sexy arrogant woman and the young naive girl. Much of how he sees her
is portrayed in death. He says that all the meanness, plannings,
discontent, and ache for attention, are all gone. This shows us that all of
her bad qualitys have been made by life, life has made her bitter. He says
that her rouged cheeks and reddened lips made her alive in away. This
gives the impression that she is innocent in death, that she is almost a
sleeping beauty, and that she is now at peace with herself. In death, she is
the poster girl she always wanted to be, and this is how Steinbeck sees her. I
think he sees her as a victim, as in death we see a poor innocent girl, not a
heartless selfish women. I personally think Curleys wife is a victim in Of Mice
And Men. Life has been hard for her, she has been overcome with pride, pity,
lies, stupidity and vanity. She actually died because of her own stupidity, and
her death was partly her fault. I feel that her victim qualities outweigh her
villain qualities. Yes she always found others to blame, found the bad in
people, and criticised everyone in sight. She was lonely, and her mistakes in
life backfired on her. I think that the part of the book that shows us she was a
victim was not where she was murdered, but actually, was before we even
met her, when the boys were talking about her in the barn. When George
and Lennie immediately believe what Candy says and immediately
stereotype her. The sentence which most classes Curleys wife as a victim
were the words I think Curleys married... a tart.

Is curley's wife a victim

John Steinbeck planned out every word he put into his novel Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck did
exactly this with the development of the character Curleys wife. She had started the novel as a
tart or a nuisance of a character, but later she turned into an admriable character, one that you
really feel for.
In Of Mice and Men, Curleys wife is shown as a very unpleasant character. For example, while
Lennie, Candy and Crookes were in Crooks room discussing their ranch, she walks in and says
Listen, Nigger... ...You keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so
easy it aint even funny. (Pg 88 and 89). This shows she is taking advantage of the fact shes
the bosss sons wife, and uses her position of power against Crooks, when all he ever did is ask
for some privacy. She went off on a racist tangent when Crooks asked for privacy from his room
because he wants no trouble with Curley. Another example of her unpleasantness is not about
what she does, but what she unintentionally does, Curley is often upset with someone else on
the range because he thinks they were being friendly with his wife, one example of this is
when George, Candy, and Lennie are thinking of their house they want to one day own, Curley
and Slim walk through the door Curley said Well I didnt mean nothing, Slim. I just ast you.
Slim said Well you been askin me too often. after your own God damn wife, what you expect
me to do about it? You lay offa me. (pg 68) It shows Curleys wife causes unpleasantness even
when she doesnt mean to. It also shows that even she isnt directly involved she can cause
unpleasantness in others through Curley, whether its intentional or not the foulness still takes
place. Curleys wife starts out the book on the wrong foot, but she turns up a new leaf in later
chapters, by explaining her true self and life story.
Curleys wife is truly an admirable character. One example is when she and Lennie were talking
in the barn, Curleys wife tries to comfort him Dont you worry none. He was jus a mutt. You
can get another one easy. The whole country is full of them. (pg 95). This shows she doesnt
always just want to cause trouble and be a nuisance. She only wants to make friends and not
feel lonely all of the time. In addition, she also says Soons he got back to Hollywood he was
gonna write to me about it... ... I never got that letter. (pg 96). She is saying here that she
thought she could one day be famous, and she doesnt like being with Curley at the ranch. She
never wanted to be at the ranch, but after the letter never showed up, she went and married
Curley. Curleys wife is compassionate and admirable, but very lonely. Loneliness is
unavoidable for most characters on the ranch in Of Mice and Men. Curleys wife is one of the
characters in this novel who fell victim to loneliness. It is shown when she explains why Curley
does not allow her to talk to the other men because of his insecurities: I get lonely, she said.
You can talk to people, but I cant talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. Howd you like

not to talk to anybody? (pg 95). Curleys insecurities disable his wife from being able to talk to
people. Curleys wife gets lonely, and it provokes her to act in a way of meanness when she
does. Her loneliness is also shown as she walks in to Crooks bunk, Well I aint giving you no
trouble. Think I dont like to talk to somebody ever once in a while? Think I like to stick in that
house all time? (pg 85). This directly shows that she is unable to have a social life outside of
Curley. Although Curley isnt around, the boys still refuse to talk to her because they dont want
any trouble with Curley. Curleys wife starts out as just a regular woman on the ranch, but later
turns into a woman you feel sorry for; like her horrid life is not her fault. Steinbeck created a
character, that is so compelling and admirable from a character that is so repulsive in the start of
the novel. He used friendship, and loneliness to contort the initial impression of Curleys wife.
He does this to show how anyone, no matter the personality behind them, may have a back
story, the kind that changes your entire impression of the person.

What is the importance of the role of Curleys wife

in the novel? You should refer closely to her words,
to events, and to the actions and opinions of other
characters in your answer.
Through considering the roles of characters in the John Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men I
believe that the role of Curleys wife is significant in the novel. Many aspects of her personality
make her so important; other characters opinions on her also form a close judgment towards
her from the beginning. I will be analysing her language and the way she communicates with the
dominant males surrounding her at the ranch. I will look at how Steinbeck portrays her role in
the novel and the impact that has on the reader and how they might perceive her character.
When introduced it is clear that she is attention seeking and very much a flirt. Steinbeck
describes her by saying, She had full rouged lips and that she was heavily made up and
wearing a cotton house dress with little red mules, on the insteps which were little bouquets of
red ostrich feathers. It becomes clear that she wasnt just looking for Curley so she told George
and Lennie, but attention from the many men who worked on the ranch. The fact that she was
made up also implies that she has a lot of time on her hands and is somewhat bored. Steinbeck
portrays her in this part of the novel as a flirt when shes talking to the men, She put her hands
back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward. Furthermore,
she tries her hardest to make conversation with the men, despite the fact they werent interested
in speaking to her, she asks, youre the new fellas that just come, aint ya? George seemed
reluctant to speak to her, he later referred to her as a tramp and jail bait whats more he
snapped at her when she was in the bunk house saying, well he aint now suggesting he just
wants the conversation to end and for her to go. The introduction of Curleys wife is an important

part of her role, as the reader can easily draw a conclusion about her. Later on in the novel,
when she is with Lennie in the barn, she says go on feel right here as she entices him to touch
her soft hair. She should have known the consequence of what would happen, because she had
already unveiled the dead puppy that Lennie had petted too hard, as he liked to pet nice, soft
things. Obviously this slipped her mind when asking him to feel her hair, as she was focused on
all the attention she craved. A key aspect to look at when analysing this particular character is
that the writer, John Steinbeck, calls her Curleys wife throughout the novel. Not giving her an
individual and personal name indicates a lack of authority and that she is owned by Curley and
doesnt have her own independence. Curleys wife herself also proclaims to being trapped and
having regrets about the way her life could have been. In the final chapter when talking to
Lennie in the barn she says, I cant talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets made. She also
confides in him saying, I get awful lonely Steinbeck tries to paint the reader a picture of how
much she despises the way her life is. She tells Lennie about how she could have been a star;
how she was spotted and could have been in the movies its as if Curley is to blame for the
terrible life she seems to lead. She tells him, I coulda made somethin of myself. It also
becomes very clear that she is in the barn to talk about herself only, when Lennie tries to
change the subject and move on to talking about himself being able to tend the rabbits she
quickly interrupts and continues to talk about her own ambitions and problems. When she is
unsure that Lennie has his full attention on her, she abruptly demands, You listenin? she then
goes onto say I dont like Curley he aint a nice fella. Unusual as it is for a woman to talk of her
husband this way, Steinbeck wants the reader to sympathise with her in a way. She didnt want
a life like this as she tells Lennie, and this may be why she acts in a way that draws attention.
Before Curleys wife is introduced properly in the novel, there is conversation about her between
Candy, George and Lennie. Candy says, Yeah purdy... but... well she got the eye. Already we
can draw a small conclusion the she doesnt have the best reputation and the men on the ranch
are wary of her flirtatious nature. George warns Lennie to stay away from her; he says fiercely
to Lennie, You dont even take a look at that bitch George acts a little distrustful of Lennie and
suspicious that Curleys wife could end up getting him into trouble. She seems to be aware that
the men on the ranch are cautious of her, she says, Aint I gotta right to talk to nobody? Whatta
they think I am anyways? when shes talking to Lennie in the barn. She may be flirting to draw
attention to herself, however the fact that she may be a little too flirt doesnt cross her mind, and
she is asking Lennie for assurance here and doesnt quite know what she does wrong. In
conclusion, I agree that Curleys wife plays a huge part in the novel, affecting other characters
around her and the opinion they have on her, whether it be good or bad. I can decide upon the
fact she is after attention, but not just for vanity and self worth, she is lonely and unhappy with
her life she lives along side Curley, she doesnt like the way he treats her and so confides and
gets close to other men on the ranch. John Steinbeck gives her an automatically inferior role as
he names her just Curleys wife and gives a clear understanding of her personality before she
is even introduced in the novel.

How does Steinbeck use Curleys wife to show the inequality during
the 1930s?
George the main character of the story, first sets his eyes on Curleys wife, his initial impression
of her is that he has never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her (Steinbeck 2006 p36). In
the novel Curleys wife is a beautiful woman who constantly shows her beauty to the men on the
ranch. She dresses inappropriately for a woman married to the bosss son. She had full,
roughed lips and wide spaced eyes, her fingernails are red and her hair hangs in little rolled
clusters, like sausages. (p34 Steinbeck 2006). Curleys wife always wanders around the ranch
in search for someone to talk to. However, the ranch workers stay wary of her as they believe
she will only give them trouble. Curleys wife is isolated, self absorbed and a dreamer.
Curley doesnt seem to have any respect for his wife at all, Candy tells George (Steinbeck p30)
why Curley wears only one glove on his hand which is soaked in Vaseline so it is kept soft for
his wife and George finds this disgusting. This is degrading to her as she is just there for his
pleasure. She is just a wife who is a trophy to show off hence the saying trophy wife.
Dreams are heavily involved in this book. Like many characters in the book, Curleys wife also
has a dream. She dreams of being a film star. She appears to be trying to get the men into
trouble but her dreams and frustrations show that she is lonely like the other people on the
ranch. She hated her upbringing, so when a guy told her she had the potential to be a movie
star and he would be in touch, finally she found a way out. However, being a young naive girl
like she was, she fell for his story and she never heard or even saw the guy again. Instead of
Hollywood and all its glam, she ended up marrying young and getting trapped on the ranch.
Being the only woman there and no one to talk to makes you emphasise with her and soften
towards her and feel her loneliness. Curley is not interested in her dream and there is only one
person she tells her dream to and that is Lennie. I think she tells lennie because she knows he
doesnt comprehend whats going on and it goes through one ear and out the other but at least
shes telling somebody her dream even if they dont quite understand but ironically the one
person she tells is the same person who takes it away for good. John Steinbeck makes very
good use of dreams throughout the novel. Each character is shown to have greater depth than
we might have expected and we are able to see how lonely and disappointed their lives are
through the quite humble ambitions that they have. The men seem to want security in their lives
whereas Curleys wife wants to escape from the boredom and lonesomeness that surrounds her
and get rid of the title Curleys wife. Although Curley's wife may be considered static, she does
not change throughout the novel Curley's wife is essential to the plot. Therefore, she is not
simply "unnamed" because she is unimportant. Curley's wife is unnamed for several reasons.
She is first and for most not worthy of a name. A name implies that a relationship can exist.

Curley's wife is not capable of a relationship; she is not worthy. With a name also comes
identification and familiarity. If we were to feel any sort of empathy for Curley's wife, we may not
understand or appreciate Lennie's role in her death. We may actually care that she is dead.
There is also the historical role of women in society. As a writer of social issues, Steinbeck
wants the reader to recognize the inferior role of women in the world. The lack of name demotes
Curley's wife to insignificant status. She is not as important as the men in the story. Curleys wife
is very flirtatious. In fact she is so flirtatious that the farmers refer to her as having the eye. The
men see her in the ranch as the cause of many problems like her husbands short heated
attitude and the fear that they will be sacked. But as the story is about to reach its climax, she
begins to add more complexity to her own character by letting Lennie in on her dreams, what
she is all about. Here she reveals that she doesnt have the eye at all but she is just lonely. She
says that she dislikes Curley because he is always annoyed and so she comes around the farm
to get away and find someone that she can talk to. In this conversation with Lennie she tells him
the dream that she had for herself. She dreamed of becoming a famous actress and she would
have wanted to live in Hollywood. But just like many of the other characters her dream went
unrealised. So instead of being an actress living a glamorous life in Hollywood, she is stuck
living in a ranch with a husband that she really doesnt like, living in a ranch full of loneliness not

Of mIce and Men, how Steinbeck creates

sympoahty and animosity towards Curley's
In of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Curleys wife sparks much debate and controversy,
being an extremely important character in the book as she symbolises the gender inequality and
discrimination of the period. At the start of the novella, we assume she is just a plot device, but
later on find out that there is much more about her and she has a very important role in the book
as being the only woman. During the 1930s women were treated unequally to men, and werent
treated with as much respect, which is reflected later when we realise that Curleys wife isnt
addressed with a name. The attitude to women at the time contrasts with how gender inequality
is now; women have the right to vote and they are now appreciated. The novella is set in the
1930s in Soledad, near Salinas, California. The novella was set during the American
depression. Soledad, meaning loneliness in Spanish is also cleverly used as the place name of
where the fictional ranch is set. This merges in with the theme of loneliness that runs throughout
the novel, foreshadowing what we later find out about Curleys wifes life on the ranch. The
Great depression was triggered by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and left millions of people

unemployed. All the while people lost confidence, felt insecure and the American Dream had
vanished, linking to what all the men on the ranch want, but now seems impossible to achieve.
Because of the ranch being an isolated and primitive, the lifestyle was lonely. Steinbeck uses
his personal experience as a ranch worker to describe how the workers felt: George says that
"ranch workers are the loneliest people in the world and don't belong nowhere". Steinbeck also
portrays loneliness through characterisation. Perhaps the loneliest character, which Steinbeck
creates in the novel, is Curley's wife. She is the only female in the ranch and although she is
married, you never witness the distinct couple of Curley and his wife together. She is never
really noticed, hence the sense of sexual discrimination. Section 1:
Of Mice and Men is filled with tragic events which come in a crucial structure that are hinted
throughout the book. In fact, even the title foreshadows the unfortunate situations that take
place. Of Mice and Men comes from the poem by Robert Burns - To a Mouse. The best-laid
schemes o' mice an men/ gang aft agley./ An leae us nought but grief an pain./ For promisd
joy!. The poem tells us that the best things always go wrong and leave you with nothing but
grief and pain, this relates to the novella well because the best dream for Curleys wife was to
be in the pitcures, but because her mother took them away (she believed) her dreams was
shattered and now is left in an unhappy marriage on a ranch where she doesnt belong. The first
moment that we hear about Curley's wife is when Candy describes her in the bunkhouse,
through gossip. He describes her as a sex object, sounding quite negative towards her.
Steinbeck first describes her in a less judgmental way, not really showing a strong opinion of
her, unlike Candys view which is much more frustrated and clear: well i think Curleys
married...a tart. When Candy describes her as a tart and the use of an ellipsis, shows that he
recoils when using such a derogatory term. The reader already pictures Curleys wife in their
head, and we immediately seem to dislike her, but also sympathise for her because she is
gossiped about before the reader even meets her and can make their own decision. One of the
reasons why we first hear about Curleys wife before we meet her is because the men on the
ranch all dislike Curley, and they all presume she is as mean as he is. Again, when she is
introduced, an ill feeling overcomes the atmosphere indicating that Lennie will be getting into a
mess with her. George states in the very beginning that he is always getting into mishaps, "You
do bad things and I got to get you out,". In the first scene, we learn that Lennie likes to stroke
mice and other soft creatures, but has a tendency to kill them accidentally. This foreshadows the
death of his puppy and the death of Curley's wife. Furthermore, when George recounts that
Lennie grabbed the woman's dress in Weed and would not let go, the reader anticipates that
similar trouble will arise at the ranch, especially once Curley's flirtatious wife appears on the
scene. Lennie being nave and has limited intelligence, showing that he is somewhat childish
and interprets his feelings different to how we might understand these feelings. When he
describes Curleys wife as Purty we get the sense that he considers her on her looks alone.
The vernacular language again shows that he is childlike, and makes him sound real. In society,
from where the book was published up till now, the elderly are no longer useful because they

arent as able. The shooting of Candys dog symbolises that there is not need for the elderly to
live, representing that Lennie is the dog, because he is not as mentally able as the other men on
the ranch. Candy mirrors George- he has to suffer and has lost his partner, just like Candy lost
his dog that kept Candy company, but no longer can, linking back to the idea of everyone
always ending up lonely. The contrast between the first chapter and the last also shows his
death because the same scene goes from the peaceful field to the violent death of the water
snake at the beginning of the novella.
Section 2:
Throughout Of Mice and Men, we feel that a lot of the characters feel real to us. This is because
of the vernacular Steinbeck uses. Curleys wife seems to be a hard character, but might not be
as strong as she would like to appear. She strives to make an impression in front of all the men,
because she is the only woman on the ranch, one could interpret this like she knows that the
men might be attracted to her and thinks she has an advantage. She was heavily made up
describes that she wears a lot of makeup; this makes the reader get a sense of ill feeling
towards her, although whilst also feeling sensitivity for her because this could illustrate that she
wears so much makeup to hide herself, and uses it as a mask. Also, she could be so made up
because she still wants to imagine herself as an actress; all the stars where makeup and look
magnificent. When Curleys wife first speaks, her voice is described with having a nasal, brittle
quality. The word nasal suggests a high, whiney voice, which does not match her powerful
facade and links to previous suggestions of being fake and disguising her real persona with her
appearance. The fact that she feels unable to show her true self for fear of being hurt, creates
sympathy in the reader. After the gossip we hear about Curleys wife, we finally meet her. Her
physical appearance of full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made- up, as well as
fingernail painted red and elaborate hair, further build on our preconceptions of her. Red, the
colour of her attire and the style of her hair and makeup suggest some sexuality. Additionally,
she use 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, and her flimsy excuse to
be with the men in their quarters contribute to the ranchers view of her as a tramp. She both
talks and acts playfully and flirtatiously in front of the other ranch workers. She could behave in
this manner because her sexuality is her only weapon to gain attention, thus Candys
description of her seems accurate after her first appearance in the novel. Through her physical
appearance and her own actions, Candys description of Curleys Wife seems accurate after her
first appearance in the novel. On the other hand, Curleys Wifes appearance could be seen as
naivety and simply youthful desire to be found attractive. Red is a primary colour therefore
children are attracted to it, it is a colour children want to wear because it is bright and has an
element of happiness in it. Therefore Curleys Wife wearing the colour red may symbolise a
childs attraction to bright colours portraying her as youthful or girly.

Curleys wife is such a complex character, and we see this in the letter Steinbeck wrote to Miss
Luce describing her. Steinbeck heard that Miss Luce was struggling to play the role of Curleys
wife in 1938, in the letter he included her as knowing utterly nothing about sex and Curleys
wife is an innocent woman under all the defenses she has built up against all the comments
directed to her.

How does Steinbeck present Curleys wife to the reader? What is her
importance in the novel?
The novel Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck is about people who were following
their dreams in such difficult times in the 1930s. These were the times of the Great Depression
in the United States, which was the effect of the First World War. By 1933, more than 15 million
workers had lost their jobs. Unemployment caused with it poverty hunger and homelessness.
Businesses as well as banks went bust and people had lost their lifetime savings, it was a
difficult time for all people. Social settings of the novel are important to the readers as the whole
scenario is about people who believed in the American Dream. The American dream was the
idea that America was a place where everyone could make a fresh start and could reach
security. For most people this dream never happened, e.g. Curleys wife. People were going
miles away from their hometowns to try to find this ideal place where everything is perfect.
Curleys wife was a character in the novel, which was presented as a young naive girl, who was
able to do everything to make her dreams come true. Steinbeck does not say in the book what
her name is, this could be due to the fact that she was the only female character that appears in
the whole novel and not knowing her name, could help readers to create their own vision of her.
Another reason could be to show her loneliness, no one cared about her that much to know her
name or because the author does not want to show her as an individual character. Also, she
only appears in four scenes and in the last one, we read that she was murdered. Steinbeck is
trying to introduce his readers to Curleys wife before she even appears by Candy as his
personal opinion: ...she got the eye or by telling that she is Purty. Candy also says that she
has been married to Candy only for two weeks, and that she is interested in the farm. In other
words, the author through Candy builds, up her reputation before she arrives, so people who
read the book can already make up their own impression of her. As Curleys wife first appears,
the author presents her as a young, possibly a teenage girl, who wears make up to make her
look older and more attractive. Her body language shows that as she is the only women on the
ranch, she feels confident around all men, She put her hands behind her back, and leaned
against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward. However, as a young girl her
confidence is changing when someone mortified her. Steinbeck in the novel is trying to
encourage readers to believe that she is still is child by presenting the way she looks and by her
behaviour. The author also wants to show that men do not like her even if she if attractive to
them they do not want to have any closer contacts with her, because as a bosses wife she can
get them into trouble. George after seeing her, makes it clear what is his opinion of her by
describing her as a tramp. Because of the way she behaves, other men think that she is a
tart. However, none of them have come close to her, they are judging her by the way they see
her, and they judge the book by its cover, not by what it contains. She feels very lonely on the
ranch as she is new, she does not know any people around, and those who are at the ranch do
not want to talk to her. This could explain the way she behaves, she wants to make a friendship
with someone, but does not know how to do it with men and this result in, that men think that
she is trying to flirt with them. Curley has been married with her only for two weeks, and as

readers can read later, she is not happy with her marriage and she does not love Curley, she is
determined to realise her American Dream of becoming famous. She tells this later in the
novel to Lennie, who is the only man who will listen to her, because he fancies her. I tell you I
aint used to livin like this. I coulda made somethin of myself...maybe I will yet. This is a perfect
example of the American dream of her; she married Curley because she believes that with him
she still has a chance to become someone. She believes that as Curleys wife she can meet
people who will helps her to become an actor, and she knows that he has got the money, so she
can live with him on a higher standard than other people. She truly believes that she is gifted,
that she has a potential to realise her dreams and she is still repeating this in the novel. She
might have a talent; however, her immature behaviours and misunderstanding of a person
which she told Lennie she met, could be just nice to her, because if she really would have this
something he would contact her, while he never contacted her again. Curleys wife has
fantasies about being famous while boys have dreams of a good life and a quiet time for when
they become older and will not be able to work physically. She knows that being the only women
on the ranch she has good sides as well as bad. She knows that as a bosss wife she has a
power over all workers in the ranch. She is racist against the colour of the skin, as well physical
strength. This appears in the novel several times for example when she comes to the mens
bunkhouse and talks to the Crooks: Listen, Nigger...You know what I can do to you if you open
your trap? By this, she shows the power of white people against black in those times, as well
as the power of her as Curleys wife, she could make false accusations against him for example,
by saying that he wanted to rape her. She also is trying to prove to Candy Lennie and Crooks
that they are worse than the other men in the ranch by saying: they left all the weak ones here.
However, this can be perceived in another way that she tried to compare herself to them.
She dies as a young girl with huge plans for the future. However, this gives to the readers the
other view of her that she looked more alive now than before she died. She looked natural than
ever before. For the first time readers could see the feelings of Curley to his wife, that he loved
her, Ill kill the nig son-of-a-bitch myself. If he would not love her, he would not care is she had
died. However, her death did not change Candys point of view of her as he still called her a
tramp. This might be because he knew that now the boys plans of getting their own place will
never happen. In some ways, her death ruined their plans, but on the other hand, by this
George retrieved his freedom and could have a new start. Curleys wife is important to the novel
as she represents all women in those times. However, most of the time readers can read how
naive and immature she was, a perfect example of that is that she could be more careful with
Lennie she would not die. She wanted to show that she can reach the sky, but her childish
appearance in the novel proved that she had not grown up yet. As Curleys wife, she gave
mixed emotions to the readers such as feeling sorry for her, her loneliness or we have exactly
the opposite feelings reading about how childish she was. But after all, Curleys wife was an
unhappy girl who made the wrong choices, which resulted in her death.

How does Steinbeck present Curleys wife in of mice and men?

John introduced us to a character called Curley's wife, she plays a complex and misfit character
as she got so many different sides to her, as sometimes the reader feels sympathetic and
unsympathetic about her. John Steinbeck's novel of Mice and Men is an example of how the
reader's perception of a character can change without the character actually changing.
Steinbeck uses many different techniques to present Curley's wife such as colour imagery,

appearance, metaphors and similes in the early stages of the novel. The effect of these
techniques is that the reader creates a mental image of Curley's wife even before she even
enters the novel. This perception is further emphasized by Curley's Wife's first appearance in
the novel. Steinbeck uses light symbolically to show that she can be imposing when he writes,
"The rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off." Steinbeck portrays her in a horrible
manner; he shows her as unintelligent and unimportant figures. Curley's wife is a prime example
of how Steinbeck presents women; she is the most prominent woman in the book, so there are
more citations about her. She uses the fact she is a vulnerable female against Crooks and is
very racist towards him. Well you keep your trap shut then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on
a tree so easy it aint even funny. This is a definite threat to Crooks. This shows that the social
attitudes at the time were extremely racist and she chooses him because he is the most weak
and least able to defend himself. She was going to accuse him of sexual assault and his black
skin she knew would add to the problem. This gives her some status and power despite her
because she is the only woman though her unpopular husband actually makes her an outcast
on the farm. Nobody will want to converse with her because they fear her husband, and
because they would automatically tar her with the same brush as they had him, which is to be
extremely unreasonable and disrespectful, not to mention rude and very unfriendly.
When Lennie and George arrive at the ranch, Curleys wife claims to be looking for her husband
Curley. But she clearly isnt just there for that. Youre the new fellas that just come, aint ya?
She immediately moves from finding her husband to acquainting herself with them. When Slim
arrives and tells her Curley had gone into the house, she leaves in a hurry as though she
thought they knew her intentions werent actually to find Curley.
There are, then, a number of aspects of her character which are less attractive. She flirts with
the other men, she does not consider the effect she is having upon them and she is racist. She
endangers their positions on the ranch through her behaviour.
Throughout the novel, there are also indications she is a victim rather than a floozy. You learn
that she dreamt of being in films but it was never going to become a reality. She showed she
had always been used by men as none of them ever intended to put her in films: an a guy tol
me he could put me in pitchers. Although she was very naive in believing it, it leaves her bitter
in her marriage knowing that this was once on offer for her because she was trapped with no
contact with the outside world of wider opportunities. She confesses to Lennie that she isnt
happy and still plans to fulfil her dreams in the future. I coulda made somethin' of myseIf...
maybe I will yet'. She confesses that her marriage to Curley isnt based on love or even lust; it
was arranged when she was just in a temper with her mother and on the rebound. I married
Curley. Met him out to the Riverside Dance that same night.' She thought shed have more
freedom, to fulfil her dreams, but it did not worked out like that. She craves some sort of
affection and attention and has clearly kept her feelings hidden away for a long time before her

confession to Lennie. I dont like Curley. He aint a nice fella. She jumps at the chance to be
able to express herself to somebody, somebody who would listen. She obviously is in despair as
by now she has lost hope of her dream. She is lonely and never receives any of the love and
affection she needs and like any young girl would want. Think I dont like to talk to somebody
ever once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time? She always just wants some
company and never understands just why nobody would speak with her. She is young, and
probably never meant to appear a tramp' or a tart'. She simply has nothing to do and nobody to
talk to. She can put two and two together. She realises her husband has no respect for her.
Think I dont know where they all went? Even Curley. I know where they all went.' On the
Saturday night, Curley had gone to a brothel with some of the other men who worked on the
ranch. Just his absence alone gives us the impression that their marriage lacks love and
intimacy. This makes you sympathise with her more, as she is young, beautiful and full of life
and her husband still chooses other women over her which surely must make her feel unworthy
and insecure as well as lowering her self-esteem.
Another part of the novel which makes you sympathise with Curleys wife is when she dies. The
meanness and the planning and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from
her face. This shows that after all the stress and things life had placed on her, she has finally
relaxed and is at ease. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young.
This again reminds you of how young she was and how she had so much unhappiness in such
a short time. Her beauty ruined her in a way, as that was the main cause of her disappointment
with acting and also why she ended up marrying Curley. Now her rouged cheeks and her
reddened lips made her seem alive. This shows and reminds you of the importance of makeup
to her, as even at her death she looks the same. Last of all the curls, tiny little sausages, make
her seem so young, like a child which automatically again makes you feel sorry for her, and
guilty in a way for thinking she was just a floozy in the beginning.

Why is Curleys wife never given a personal name?

Names have been an important facet of society for as long as Homo sapiens have existed. A
name is defined as a word or symbol used in logic to designate an entity. In Of Mice and Men,
John Steinbeck teaches a lesson about the nature of human existence and shows how grim and
isolated people become without hope. Steinbeck neglects to address Curleys wifes character
by name in order to emphasize her position as a literary element and provide commentary on
Curleys wife is never named because Steinbeck wished to emphasize the ubiquitous dislike of
her throughout the farm. Whilst reading the novella, it is implied that no one on the farm likes
Curleys wife. However, there isnt necessarily a flaw in her personality from which this aversion
to her stems. The characters avoid interaction with her because they fear retribution from her
possessive, short-tempered husband. The men on the farm begin to foster hatred toward her
because her constant need for attention puts their livelihoods in danger. The men cant ever get
too familiar with her because they are distanced by the fact that she is Curleys wife. Steinbeck
constantly reminds the readers and the characters in the book of this fact by denying her a

proper name. Second in the litany of reasons why Curleys wife remains unnamed throughout
the entire novella is that Steinbeck wishes to superimpose over the entire story the idea that she
was a possession of Curley's and not an independent entity. During the course of the novella,
we run across multiple instances in which Curley is angered by even the idea of his wife
consorting with other men, even in a platonic manner. As previously stated, Curley would even
resort to firing men if he was unpleased with the way the interacted with his wife. The reader is
able to draw a parallel between the way Curley treats and acts toward his wife and the way
someone would act when dealing with an object of theirs. It is very clear that she is expected
(by Curley and the other men, save Lennie) to obey Curley at all times. At the period in time in
which the novella is set, women are expected to submit to their husband wordlessly and this is
thoroughly explored in Of Mice and Men through Curley and his wifes relationship. The zeitgeist
of 1937(the year in which the book was published) and its subsequent influence on literature
written around that time period is another reason Curleys wife remains nameless. In that time,
women were considered inferior to men and werent nearly as important in the public eye. One
must remember when reading Of Mice and Men that the 19th amendment which gave women
the right to vote only became an addendum in 1920. The novella was set during The Great
Depression a time during which women did not have the amount of authority in society as they
do today. Curleys wife was used to depict women as troublemakers that disrupt the flow of life
for men. Steinbeck failed to assign Curleys wife a name because it was acceptable at the time
for women to be undermined and overlooked. By constantly referring to her as Curleys wife
Steinbeck undermines her character as an independent person because she is forced to always
be associated to Curley. With this minor oversight Steinbeck was able to use her character in
As indicated previously, Steinbeck writes Curleys wife as a literary element to enhance the story
as opposed to a character in the story. Almost humorously, one of the outcomes of refusing her
a proper name (which I suspect was intentional) is that it caused the reader to direct more
attention to her than anyone else in the story. Steinbeck is commonly known as an author who
utilizes descriptions as a way to portray his characters. Curley is often mentioned as "the boss's
son. Slim is introduced as the "jerkline skinner. Crooks is solely referred to as the stable buck
or simply nigger until chapter 4. Despite the fact that all these characters have names, they are
relatively miniscule parts of the story when push comes to shove, the nameless wife is the one
who causes things to happen and mandates attention from every angle, be it real or fictitious (by
which I mean from both readers and characters within the story). The most convincing reason
yet as to why Curleys wife remains unnamed lays in something Steinbeck once said in an
interview. Steinbeck described her character as a symbol. He was recorded to have said She
has no function, except to be a foil and a danger to Lennie." She was the antagonist who
provided the main characters something to be anxious about; she was the force that put up
massive hurdles for the protagonists to overcome. A villain is defined as The person or thing
responsible for specified trouble, harm, or damage. Inadvertently, such was the purpose of
Curleys wife. It wasnt her plan to end Lennies life. She simply pursued what she felt she
deserved: male attention. Her need to fill this desire for attention became so intense that it
ultimately caused tragedy. In conclusion, Curleys wife not being assigned a name was not just a
mere oversight at the hands of John Steinbeck. She was an instrument used to undermine the
position of women in society. Steinbeck purposefully left out her name in order to enhance his
writing, and address issues during the time period in which he lived. Curleys wife was used to
depict women as the ones who threatened the happiness and well-being of men. Denying
Curleys wife a name was an integral part in the writing of Of Mice and Men.

Curleys Wife: Floozy or Innocent Girl?

Curleys wife is a young, pretty woman, who is mistrusted by her husband, Curley. The other
characters refer to her only as Curley's wife, which is significant as she is the only character in
the novel without a name. She is a simple object or possession belonging to her husband and
this shows the severity of the sexual discrimination in America in 1930s. I believe Steinbeck
would have thought of her not as a person but a symbol. Almost everyone on the ranch is lonely
and she symbolises this. The audience would come to believe she is a weak isolated character
however, the men are fearful of her. She is the wife of their boss. She has power and this power
creates fear among the ranch workers. She is both in charge and screaming for attention. When
we first meet Curleys wife, the description of her suggests she is clearly overdressed for life on
a ranch. Her fingernails were red and she wore red mules, on the insteps of which were little
bouquets of red ostrich feathers. The repetition of the red suggests danger. This could be a
warning about trouble in the future. Danger creates fear and the workers on the ranch definitely
fear her. She has the power to dismiss them from their jobs or even have them lynched as she
is the bosss wife. This Miss Dynamite image is supported by the fact that George thinks she
will be trouble. He calls her a tramp, poison and tells Lennie (who has taken a shine to her) to
leave her be. He sees her as a threat and doesnt want Lennie to get involved with someone
who could potentially lose them their jobs. The audience begins to dislike this woman. This
highlights the prejudice against women at the time. She comes across as a confident flirt when
in company due to her body language. The first description of her includes that her body
was thrown forward. This gesture suggests that she almost throws herself at men. George
called her a tramp and her actions are beginning to fulfill this opinion of her. I think some would
view this as disappointing. Women were mainly seen in whore houses at the time. The fact that
Curleys wife had found herself a husband, lived on a ranch and not in a whore house, suggests
she is a good girl. We want her to be different from the general view of women at the time
which had been brought about by prejudice. Unfortunately she comes across as no different.
This continues in chapter 5, when Curleys wife consoles Lennie. She moved closer is
repeated showing how she continuously reduces the distance between herself and Lennie. It
suggests she is forward and flaunting herself at him. The audience could start to feel
uncomfortable and anxious at this point. This could be the moment of danger that was
foreshadowed in the beginning. She seems to be the powerful Miss Dynamite. However, there
are so many implications that she is a lonely victim. After she is killed there is a poignant
moment in the book. The long sentences emphasise the movement of peace, time standing still
before the men find her body. All the negative aspects of the character disappear and we feel
sympathy for her. She tries to convey glamour and sophistication when really she is just a sweet
country girl. Steinbeck describes her as very pretty, simple and sweet when dead. The
audience now realise the simplicity of her true self. the discontent and the ache for attention
were all gone from her face shows that she is at peace. She doesnt have to pretend anymore.
She has been putting on an act. She had a dream which we only become aware of in this
chapter to become a film star in Hollywood. One theme in the book is the American dream.

Lennie and George have one. However, it is suggested that this is unreachable as George talks
of them owning red and blue and green rabbits which gives the American dream a fantasy
quality. The fact that Curleys wife still seems to believe in her dream gives her a naivety and we
feel more sympathy for her and the audience warm to her. I think this is the point in the book
(when Steinbeck reveals her true character) that the audience can look back over the book and
think of her differently, as the lonely victim. For instance, she is constantly searching for her
husband which could be an excuse to mingle with the other men. Im looking for Curley could
have a hidden meaning and she could be desperate for some attention if she is lonely. The
loneliness of her character is supported by the scene with Lennie in Chapter 5. She tells Lennie
the about herself and her dream. She is so desperate to talk to someone and for someone to
listen. .. her words tumbled out in a passion of communication shows how desperate she is to
share her story. This desperation continues when she went on with her story quickly, before she
could be interrupted. This could be seen as her being conceited. On the other hand, she could
just be overwhelmed that someone is actually listening to her so she wants to say everything
before it becomes too good to be true and Lennie loses interest. This implies she has no one to
talk to which is saddening as it shows how isolated she must be. This isolation is emphasised
further when she cant even connect with Lennie. The one person who she starts to befriend
turns out to be too good to be true. Dont you think of nothing but rabbits? shows that Lennie
isnt really listening. They lose what was a potentially beautiful connection. In conclusion,
Curleys wife dreams of being Miss Dynamite but is really only the lonely victim. Her dream was
to be a film star in Hollywood but she finds herself living on a ranch. One of her strengths is her
status in society as the bosss wife but apart from this she seems to be the lonely victim through
and through even though she tries to cover it up with her glam image. She hides behind a
mask and the audience only realise when she dies.

I aint never seen no piece of jailbait worse than her

What is the reader meant to think about Curleys wife?
Curleys wife eventually goes on to be the very cause of the destruction of George and Lennies
dream and this statement acts as a foreshadowing device for the detrimental role shell
eventually play. The term jailbait itself carries various connotations. The dictionary definition is
a young woman, or young women collectively, considered in sexual terms but under the age of
consent and from that itself we can see that the term carries sexual implications. The beginning
of the word, jail implies that she is dangerous while bait implies that as a character, she would
reel people in to harmful situations and this overall creates the impression that Steinbeck wants
us to have of her; someone that is destructive, dangerous and almost destined to condemn the
others. Our first introduction to Curleys wife starts by her cutting off the rectangle of sunshine
in the doorway. While that could allude to many different ideas, like that she has an imposing
personality or even a very large form, the reader is meant to instantly see that fact that she

blocks the sunlight as a foreshadowing device, showing how she eventually blocks all the lights,
or all the positive facets of the ranch, by inadvertently stopping The Dream from coming to
fruition. The fact that the reader already has preconceived notions of the character before we
are actually introduced to her stems from the fact that Candy talks about her with a lot of disdain
earlier on by saying I think Curleys married a tart. This quote from Candy is used by Steinbeck
to help the reader understand the novel through the eyes of one of the ranch hands. The reader
is meant to generate the same opinion about Curleys wife as the ranch hands because
Steinbeck doesnt want the reader to feel any sympathy for her until the end; he builds up a
negative image of her throughout the novel, and the only place where he fully rectifies it is in
death. After he death shes described as very pretty and simple and uncharacteristically,
because she no longer (aches) for attention. At this point in the novel Steinbeck creates an
illusion of her being an angelic character, and while the reader knows its not necessarily true, it
is still an opinion that resonates due to the seeming peace she gains due to the fatality. The
death of Curleys wife is a way of showing how in that time, on a ranch, it was a mans world.
Her death, as the only female character not only shows the element of the survival of the fittest,
but it also shows how society at the time was mainly male-dominated. Mean is an adjective that
can easily be used to describe her character; she is vicious to Crooks and says, Well, keep
your place then Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even funny. This
helps to reinforce the negative impression the reader already has of her, but by this point in the
novel we can see that she craves attention, and in her own way, insulting Crooks makes her feel
better because he is probably the only character in the novel, being both black and
handicapped, that she can rightfully claim to be greater than in terms of status. This shows that
there is not only a circle of life on the ranch; where the weak pick on the weaker, but also that
Curleys wife is a vindictive character due to way society has made her and due to the fact that
she suffers a lot, and is highly discontent and lonely and therefore can be quite cruel to people
she doesnt deem worth her time. At this point in the novel were meant to see her malicious
side and not feel any sympathy for her, but in hindsight the reader can see how insulting crooks
wasnt a necessarily a nasty act, but one done simply out of both loneliness and frustration. In
the quote, Curleys wife is described as being a piece of jailbait. The word piece is meant to
objectify her and make the reader see her less as a person. Steinbeck also does this by never
giving her a name, she is always referred to as Curleys wife, making her out to be a
possession. At this point the reader isnt meant to think highly of her, again keeping consistent
with having the reader have the same impression of Curleys wife that the ranch hands do. She
is always associated with two main things; Curley and the colour red, which is essentially what
makes the guys think of her as a whore or a floozy. Her being Curleys property makes her a
tart because she speaks to other men, and the colour red oozes sensuality and lust, which
doesnt just create the impression of a young girl seeking attention, but of a woman using her
body to prey on the lonely men of the farm. Curleys wife is often associated with ideas that
seem consistent in the novel and are clearly portrayed to the reader, but there is always an
undertone that provides an explanation of her behaviour. On first impression, the reader isnt

meant to feel any particular sympathy towards her and Steinbeck does that cleverly by masking
her isolation and feeling of alienation with both sensuality and objectification but when thought
about, she is a hugely lonely and hugely ostracized character that uses whatever advantage
she has, for example being the only woman on the farm, to get the attention she so desperately
wants. Overall, the reader is meant to perceive Curleys wife with quite a negative image and to
see her through the eyes of the ranch workers to further enforce that negativity. However, there
are elements of her character that gain sympathy from the reader throughout the novel and that
is only made stronger at the end of the book, when she dies. As a character, her role doesnt
serve for much other than to be the cause of the destruction of The Dream, and this in itself
makes the readers despise her, much like Candy does for the very same reason. In spite of this,
she is still shown as lonely, and in a way brave for doing what the guys dont do; finding the
attention they so desperately crave. The reader isnt meant to think much about Curleys wife in
the literal sense but she is a character that causes the reader to think, to think about the subtle
suggestions and implications in the novel and to think about the confined, trapped, detrimental
lives the characters on the farm suffer and the way society makes life difficult for people based
on its prejudices.

To what extend does John Steinbeck

present Curleys wife as a bad character?
John Steinbecks initial portrayal of Curleys wife seems to be a weak character in the novella
Of Mice And Men. There is a powerful yet a lonely side to her. Its similar to that of a split
personality. Steinbeck purposely gives her no name; therefore she has no status, which
emphasizes on her weak side. On the other hand she is shown as a powerful woman too. This
is evident when all the ranchmen see her as jailbait which shows that the men are frightened
of her. We first encounter Curleys Wife in chapter two. Steinbeck wants to hint at her
destructive and dark nature. She is the reason for the absence of light in the bunkhouse.
Sunshine in the doorway was cut off This foreshadows her negative and dark dynamisms
towards the ranchmen. Symbolically this could also represent an obstacle to George and
Lennies dream. Curleys wife knows her beauty is her power, and she uses it to flirt with the
ranchmen and make her husband jealous. She likes to impose herself upon people, for example
Lennie and Crooks. This is because she sees them as weak, and from that she can hopefully
get friendship and comfort, which is what she really wants.
She is isolated; she is the only female on the ranch, and her husband has forbidden anyone to
talk with her. She contends her loneliness by flirting with the ranch workers. A major barrier is
based on gender: The bunkhouse is a male world, where women are not to be trusted. Curley's
wife is always looking for attention, but Curley's jealousy causes all the men to stay away from

her. Although Curley's wife is often depicted as cruel and troublesome the real thing that
segregates her is that she is a female in an all-male world. She is singled out in the novel and
this makes her a lonely character, 'Aint I got a right to talk to nobody'. This is where Curley's wife
is talking to Lennie and she feels welcomed because Lennie doesn't know the trouble that he
could get in for talking to her. Steinbeck seems to show, through Curleys wife, that even the
worst of us have our humanity.
She is married to a man she doesn't love and who doesn't love her. There are no other women
on the ranch and she has nothing to do. She tried to befriend the ranchmen by hanging around
the bunkhouse. Curleys wife admits to Candy, Crooks and Lennie that she is unhappily married,
and crooks tells Lennie that life is no good without a companion to turn to in times of confusion
and need. Steinbeck clearly wants the reader to feel sorry for Curleys Wife she shares her
feeling with the other characters in the novella, which are lonely too.
In the barn scene, however, Steinbeck creates sympathy for Curleys wife by exploring her
dreams. Her best laid plans involved being in the movies with all the advantages, money, and
pleasure that would give her. Her beauty is such that perhaps that dream might have come true.
Her dreams make her more human and vulnerable. Steinbeck restates this impression by
portraying her innocence in death: Curleys wife laythe discontent and the ache for attention
were all gone from her face. Lennie murders Curleys wife, this can be argued as to weather or
not she was to blame for her own death. Curleys wife was very flirtatious; she flirted with all the
young men at the ranch and this is how readers might blame her for her death. 'She put her
hands behind her back and leaned against the door-frame so that her body was thrown
forward.' Here she is making herself noticed to the George and Lennie because they're new.
She also told Lennie to touch her hair because he said that he liked to touch soft things. ' Herefeel right aroun' there an' see how soft it is'. This could be classed, as seducing because she
wants him to touch her hair but on the other hand it could be classed as her being nice to him. It
seems as though she is just being nice to him but things get out of hand.

'of Mice and Men'. How Does Steinbeck Present Curleys

Wife to the Reader? What Is Her Importance in the Novel?
In order to discuss how Steinbeck presents Curleys wife to the reader one would determine that
many readers would interpret her character and importance in many diversified ways. In this
essay, one must elaborate on Steinbecks true definition of the one and only female in the novel.

First and foremost other females in the novel are mentioned but not greeted with a presence like
Curleys wife. A girl that Lennie scares in Weed is mentioned in a past tense and most
importantly Lennies Aunt Clara is mentioned several times where sometimes she can be

perceived as the absent centre. Nonetheless the reader is finally graced with Aunt Claras
presence towards the end of the novel as an imaginary figure to Lennies symbolic vision.
Be that as it may, Curleys wife is the only female character that the reader is properly
acknowledged with. As she is the only female in the novel which is set in a mans world, one
would come to the conclusion that Curleys wife is possibly the loneliest character in the novel.
Steinbeck presents Curleys wife as a lonely character by reason of her being introduced
through the view point of other characters. In other words she is used as a product of gossip [.
Candy, the old Swamper, will attempt to entertain George and Lennie by making harsh
accusations about her at Curleys wife expense. She is presented as a flirt with loose sexual
morals. She got the eye. Shes Jail Bait. As the ranchers have these subjected views of her
they believe the famous saying The female of the species is more deadly that the male.
In Curleys wife case, it is simply not true. She is extremely lonely and therefore craves the
attention of other men just so that she can be stimulated by innocent conversation, nothing
more. Why cant I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely. This is evidence
enough of her lonely status. Steinbeck presents all of the characters in the novel as being
lonely. However, they are all lonely in different ways, Curley's wife is lonely due to the fact that
she is a newly married woman. She is neglected by her husband Curley as she is used as an
object for Curleys sexual desires. She is viewed with suspicion as a tart, by the ranch hands.
Most importantly Candy is the main person who gossips about Curleys wife. The technical term
for this is that he narrates the gossip in third person. He tells George and Lennie that Curley
keeps his hand soft for his wife. He implies that Curley puts Vaseline on his hand. This
Vaseline passage absorbs the reader and disgusts them. We gather from this statement that the
ranch hands have no respect for Curleys wife as she is treated as only being there for her
husbands sexual desires. This extenuates how Steinbeck has made her character to be the
true outsider of the novel.
Lennie is the only character who falls under her seduction, as he says Shes purty. The word
purty is deliberately spelt wrong due to the fact, that Steinbeck wanted realism and authenticity
in the sound of working class American accents. This adjective is used to describe Curley's wife
through out the novel, and finally towards the end of the novel when she dies, the word purty is
spelt correctly as the narrator describes her features and not a character in the novel. She was
very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. From Lennie's purty comment,
George becomes angry and makes oft-repeated assertions that the girl will bring nothing but
trouble. George demands that Lennie stays away from her as he perceives her as a hindrance
on their ability to achieve their dream of living off the fat of the land. George is obviously
concerned about Lennies wellbeing as he does not want a repeat of what happened between
Lennie and the girl in Weed.

Curleys wife may be Jail bait in the eyes of the ranch hands but she is never really evil. Her
punishment of death outweighs any crimes she may have committed. Perhaps she could even
have been a loving wife had she met the right man. Steinbeck has quoted in the past, Curleys
wife is essentially a good and trusting person who grew up in an atmosphere of fighting and
suspicion. Her pretence of hardness is largely a sham. It is all that she knows. She is not
particularly over-sexed, but has been forced to recognise that her sexuality is the only weapon
she has and the only thing for which she is noticed. However, her weapon of sexuality backfires
as it will be the death of her.
Lennies naivety is finally seduced by her sexuality and he commits manslaughter on her as hes
unaware of his vast strength. Like Curleys wifes weapon of sexuality, Lennies weapon is his
amazing strength. In the situation of Lennies strength versus Curleys wife sexuality, Lennies
strength results in his demise just as Curleys wife sexuality did.
Ostensibly Curleys wife is capable of exuding a huge sexuality, but she combines it with
innocence, vulnerability and an inability to enjoy sex. The vulnerable and insecure side of
Curleys wife is what makes her good and pure. She was almost certainly a virgin before she
married Curley because she has had it preached at her so hard from her upbringing that it is the
only way that she can get a husband.
The narrators description of Curleys wife physical appearance is figuratively sexual She had
full rouged lips implies that her lips are for the purpose of kissing and possibly to perform
fellatio acts. In addition to this the phrase Heavily made up is a bad reference to the fact that
she could be a prostitute as the stereotypical prostitute smothers themselves in make up. Most
essentially the quote her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages is a very obvious
symbol of sexual innuendo. The simile Like sausages is a phallic symbol for penis. The colour
red is also an emblem of sex. Cotton house dress and red mules. Bouquets of red Ostrich
feathers, Her finger nails were red. These descriptions insinuate that she is a loose woman.
Little does the reader know at this point that she is none of the above. Steinbeck leads the
reader on, making them speculate whether or not she is a tart. In reality she is not. Instead
these metaphoric symbols are really foreshadows or hints as to what will happen to her in the
end. Of Mice and Men is not a novel of suspense but a novel about characters. Nevertheless, it
might be felt that some of the hints he offered are rather heavy handed. Her voice had a nasal,
brittle quality implies that her voice is deep and husky, this signifies that her speech does not
match her tarty image. The jerk line skinner Slim harmlessly flirts with Curleys wife. Slims
voice came through the door, Hi, good looking. Saying these words to a married woman is
hardly flirtatious. The foreshadow Jail bait implies that she is under age. Curleys wife is not
under age as she is married. We are told that Curley is very concerned about his wife, whom he

married a fortnight ago, because she is giving all of the men the eye, suggesting that she
wants to sleep with them. Again this is not the case. she just wants to engage in conversation
and uses the excuse that she is looking for her husband when really she is not. Im looking for
Curley she said.
Curleys wife is truly the victim and not the attacker. There is a strong possibility that Curley hits
his wife as she says when she goes into Crooks room Curleys gonna lead with his left twice
and then bring in the ol right cross? One two, she says. This is enough evidence to suggest
that Curley preys on her. Even worse, she receives no sympathy as Candy says You gotta
husban! You got no call foolin aroun with other guys causin trouble. From this comment
Curleys wife has no one to turn to which is why people think that she is misunderstood but
truthfully towards the end of the novel the reader perceives her as a poor tormented soul.
The foreshadowing and hints are finally revealed towards the final act. Curleys wife finally
persuades Lennie to talk to her after several strategic tactics. When the narrator describes the
repetition of her physical description of red ostrich feathers ,and other red features, the colour
red now indicates danger, Steinbeck has deliberately deceived the reader to make them think
that her red features describe her to be a tart, but the colour red has foreshadowed that danger
will creep up on her.
Curleys wifes tactics of getting Lennie to confide in her are reassuring him with flattery. If
Curley gets tough, you can break his han. She also seduces Lennie into sympathising with her.
Why cant I talk to you?...I get awful lonely In return she provides sympathy for him. She
consoled him. She spoke soothingly. Once she has confided in Lennie by talking about her
hopes and dreams of becoming an actress, but failed. The reader now sympathises and no
longer judges her to be a loose woman. It can now be notified that she has been mistreated by
people her whole life which is what made her vulnerable and insecure.
Nonetheless the plot thickens. Once Lennie tells her that he likes to pet soft things, she
embraces the comment and lets him stroke her hair which eventually leads to a panic and her
death. For Lennie had broken her neck. The foreshadows in the novel which lead to her death
are when they constantly move closer together and danger begins to approach as the barn
darkens. Steinbecks use of setting her to foreshadow disaster is most intriguing. The light was
lifting as the sun went down. Darkness has always appeared to be dull, gloomy and dangerous.
Ergo danger had finally got the better of her.
Steinbeck changes the view of the readers opinions when Curleys wife lies dead in the hay
The discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. Curleys wife is now
finally set free. In death she is beautiful, Her face was sweet and young. Her descriptions are a
metaphor to sleeping beauty. She is now an angel and set free.

In conclusion, ones subjective conjecture believes that Curleys wife was a temptress to an
extent. Most essentially a misguided and naive individual. Her ignorance is what makes her
innocent and vulnerable. The reader is meant to believe in the novel that she is a tart.
However, Steinbeck turns the tables around and makes her the victim that the reader must
empathise with. Curleys wife is a tragic figure at the end of the novel. She is a symbol of the
destructive and hopeless existence suffered by poor Americans during the great depression of
the 1930s. Is the female of the species more deadly than the male? In Curleys wife case, the
answer is no.

Both Curleys Wife and Crooks Are Viewed as Outsiders Who Suffer
from Loneliness as a Result of Their Marginalization in Mice and
Men. How Does Steinbeck Present These Characters as Outsiders
and How Do You Think We
Steinbecks novel Of Mice and Men was set in the Great depression in 1930s America. The
characters reflect the struggles and harsh times many working Americans faced in that era.
Isolated, lonely, marginalised and mistrustful, people had to create new lives for themselves. In
the novel Steinbeck describes several characters that are vulnerable due to the social context of
that time; Crooks and Curleys wife face particular hardship which result in them being outsiders
in the place they consider home. Steinbeck implies early on in the novel the views other
characters have of Crooks and Curleys wife may differ from the modern reader. Though both
women and black people had progressed in their rights by the time of the setting of the novel,
old attitudes and mistreatment of black people and to an extent women were still present.
Steinbeck immediately emphasises Crooks and Curleys wifes low status via their introduction.
They are both introduced in such a way to highlight their low regard by others and how they are
viewed by society. Steinbeck describes Crooks low status very early in the book through the
old swamper Candy. Candy describes how Crooks gets abuse from the boss for things that
are beyond his control. An he give the stable buck hell too. Ya see the stable bucks a nigger.
The initial comments depict Crooks as an outsider as he is the only character described to have
been getting abused by the boss. It also shows how Crooks is used as an outlet of the bosss
frustration. Candy then describes Crooks using a racial slur. This represents Crooks isolation
further as Candys initial description of Crooks is through his colour and not his personality or
other features. The use of the racial term reflects also how society sees Crooks and that this
type of language was acceptable to the people of these times. Steinbeck uses a similar ploy
when initially introducing Curleys wife, as he introduces her again through Candy. We see early
on how Curleys wife is regarded on the ranch and this gives us an early view of why she is
isolated as such. well- she got the eye well I think Curleys, married . . . a tart Candys initial
remark about Curleys wife elicits the potential idea that she behaves in a flirtatious manner
towards other ranchers, which has caused the ranchers to avoid her and therefore caused her

segregation. The second remark by Candy suggests the opinion of her by other ranchers. The
use of the strong derogatory term for her evidently suggests that she is isolated out of hatred
towards her coquettish attitude.
We see early on the Curleys wifes body language backs up what is said about her by Candy.
She is described as trying to gain attention via her body. Leaned against the door frame so that
her body was thrown forward. It shows the vainness of Curleys wife which can easily lead to
her exclusion due to her being self-obsessed and unable to relate to the other workers. The line
also shows how she is more inclined to use her body to gain attention from the others and this
shows how she has become desperate for attention due to her isolation. The language used in
the line about how her body is thrown forward which allows Steinbeck to clearly illustrate the
extent of which she is going to gain attention, depicting early on the effects of her loneliness.
In the novel we see how Steinbeck suggests Crooks also demands self-segregation, we see
this when Lennie initially tries to talk with Crooks. You got no right to come in my room. This
conveys how Crooks being subjected to so much isolation has become accustomed to it,
possibly suggesting he has become an introvert. It also shows how Crooks puts on a defensive
front due to his marginalization on the ranch. Crooks talks about his rights on several
occasions. Nobody got any right in here but me The first comment shows how Crooks claims
instant owner ship of his quarters, this reflects how his constant seclusion on the ranch and
society has made him need to protect and claim things that are his.
Steinbeck in the novel symbolizes through Crooks possessions how he seeks a way of
removing his isolation. A tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for
1905 The use of the dictionary and civil code allows Steinbeck to convey to the reader how
Crooks is a learned man and also is not someone to quickly accept being excluded. It evokes
sympathy and a degree of empathy for Crooks as we see how he tries to find a way for him to
be accepted and also we see he is not a simple a rancher but a man of slight intellect. The use
of the civil code also suggests how Crooks may not have initially understood the reasons for his
Both Crooks and Curleys wife are seen to feel as though no-one understands their situation of
being alone. Steinbeck does this through the use of rhetorical questions in their dialect. Spose
you couldnt go into the bunkhouse and play rummy cause you was black. Howd you like that?
This remark by Crooks explores how he understands that his seclusion is due to his colour.
Steinbeck by using a rhetorical question also allows the reader to sympathize with Crooks and
also picture what he describes. Steinbecks reference to the word black as opposed to nigger
also shows how Crooks though secluded tries to maintain his dignity and self-respect. When
Curleys wife is talking with Lennie, Steinbeck does the same thing as he did with Crooks. Aint I
got a right to talk to nobody? The use of language in this remark also allows us to sympathize

with Curleys wife as it allows the reader to empathize how frustrated she may feel from being
shunned on the ranch.
Steinbeck shows how Curleys wifes attitude and derogatory remarks about the ranchers has
led to her being disliked and shunned on the ranch in chapter 4 when she is in the stables.
Standin here talkin to a bunch of bindle stiffs- a nigger an a dum-dum and a lousy ol sheepan likin it because they aint nobody else. This quote shows her low regard for certain ranchers
and how she is forced to try and socialize with people she doesnt like out of desperation. It also
shows how her remarks about the ranchers bindle stiffs may have caused her to be isolated
and marginalized by the workers. It also evokes the idea she lacks the ability to communicate
with the other workers in a way where they respond in a positive manner. The quote also
indirectly suggests Curleys wife is not really meant on the ranch as she says they aint nobody
else which illustrates how she has no-one, with whom she can properly relate to.
Both Curleys wife and Crooks are partly subjected to isolation due to the social context of the
time period in which the book is set. Crooks being a black man in 1930s America would have
suffered large amounts of seclusion and racial violence. Steinbeck conveys this through the
threat made to him by Curleys wife, I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even
funny. The use of the threat allows Steinbeck to explore and clearly depict how Crooks cant
escape that in this society he will also be second class and looked upon as different and an
outsider. The line shows explores the idea that due to him being classed as different, he is
susceptible to being lynched or suffer some sort of violence so easily as it is accepted in society.
The use of such a powerful image paves the way for Steinbeck to show the reader the extent of
Crooks seclusion. Similarly he does same for Curleys wife, as being a woman in 1930s
America she would have not had many rights. Steinbeck however when conveying this
message uses more subtle imagery as a white woman had slightly higher regard than a black
man. Steinbeck references how women were usually meant to be in the household, she wore a
cotton house dress and Think I like to stick in that house alla time? the first quote describing
her attire allows Steinbeck to suggest early on that her marginalized on the ranch is partly due
to her gender, the use of the house dress implies that she is not meant to be on the ranch and is
out of place. It secondly suggests that she constantly tries to avoid being isolated at home and
is further out-casted for not fully compelling her role. The second remark also implies how
society was such that people were meant to accept their place and, she is shown to not accept
her place and therefore caused her to be shunned because it.
The marginalized characters in the novel have several things in common and, ironically, if these
characters could look beyond their own issues they might find some mutual trust and support.
Steinbeck portrays Crooks and Curleys wife (alongside George and Lennie) as having dreams
of a better future. Curleys wife wanted to be a film star Coulda been in the movies and
Crooks desires a better life as represented by the civil code. However as with the American

dream it only happens for a few and it consists of loneliness and despair. At the end of the novel
there is not apparent freedom from isolation for Crooks, yet Curleys wife gains some freedom in
death. the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all
gone from her face

How does Steinbeck portray prejudice of women during 1930s?

Women in 1930s America were treated as 2nd class to the men. They were in charge of
household duties, especially when the men went to war. Women did not have the rights the men
had, such as: voting and working. A traditional 1930 American woman would usually be owned
by their father and passed on to their husband when married. This relates to Curleys wife
because she had no name throughout the novel. This name Curleys Wife suggest that she
was Curleys possession and did not have freedom to life. Curleys wife death makes me feel
sympathy for her because she is described as simple, pretty, sweet and young. This reminds
the reader that she still had many years to live, and all of the pain she has been through for a
short amount of time. However, I dont feel sympathy for her when Steinbeck says that her
reddened lips made her seem alive, which reminds the reader that she lived most of her life
trying to impress men, to get attention, and it also signifies the importance of it to her.
Before the reader meets Curleys wife, Candys opinion of her is prejudged and formed on her
looks rather than her personality. His past experience of her enables him to speak negatively
about her to George and Lennie; as he says I think Curleys married a tart. Steinbeck uses the
word tart to show candy opinion of her as a flirt and a loose woman. This is a prejudged opinion
because Candy did not allow George and Lennie to get their opinion of her first, as he knowing
that this will corrupt their minds against her and make them speak negatively of her. It also
makes the reader prejudge against her without meeting her. This makes me have and feel
sympathy for Curleys wife because all of the men speak badly of her. Candys gossip of her
would not fully allow George and Lennie to make up their own minds.
In comparison with the previous paragraph, when Candy expresses his opinion of Curleys Wife,
we see from her first appearance that he was right about her looks and personality. Immediately
as she arrives, she comes up with the excuse that she is looking for Curley, but it is obvious
that she wasnt there just for that as when told his not there she changes the subject. youre
the new fellas that just come, aint ya?. This questioned is asked to get a response to form a
conversation from George and Lennie. This implies that she is lonely and that she needs
someone to talk to due to Curley ignoring her. This demonstrates that she wanted to speak
with George and Lennie, as she quickly moved away from the subject of finding Curley. We also
see that her body posture is deliberately laid back against the door, so her body was thrown
forward. The writer uses the verb thrown to show that it is an unnatural movement and it is

done forcefully. This suggests that she knows by doing this will be admired by the men, and she
will get attention from it. This makes me have no sympathy for her because she is causing her
own problems by acting flirtatious in front of the men. I think that she also needs to sort out her
marriage to get respect from the men.
In addition when Curleys wife is in crooks room she is presented as a menace, a threatening
and violent figure. Like a predator she seems to draw closer to her chosen prey in this case
cooks she turned on him, she closed on him. Her behavior toward the men starts to be
dominant, knowing she has superior control over them they left all the weak ones here.
Steinbeck uses the adjective weak to emphasize on the fact that she takes the advantage
against them even though she is weak herself. This is evident later on in the section in the
way Curleys wife dominates the scene and renders crooks meek and powerless. Her language
towards them is packed with threats as she repeats you know what I can do to you. This also
suggests that they have no power or authority at all and that they are defenseless. She is also
known and presented as a racist well you keep you trap shut nigger. This reflects the
society they were in at the time as she is influenced to be a racist. This makes me have no
sympathy for her because she is meant to try to interact with them because they all similar but
instead she uses her slight authority against them.
Throughout the novel there are indications that she is victim rather than a tart or flirt. The
reader learns that she dreamt of being in films but it was never going to happen. As she opens
up to Lennie she says that she is not happy and still plans to follow her dreams, I could a
made something of myself. She still goes on to say and confess that she doesnt like Curley
and that she is not getting enough attention from him. She tries to make Lennie feel sorry for her
and has clearly kept her feelings about her marriage hidden for long time before she opens up
to Lennie. I dont like Curley he aint a nice fella. She takes the chance to be able to express
herself to someone who will listen. This makes me feel sympathy for her because it makes me
understand deeply what she has been through for a short amount of time and why seeks for
attention desperately.
Another time I feel sympathy for her is when she dies because she is described simple and
pretty. This reminds the reader that she still had many years to live, and all of the pain she has
been through for a short amount of time. However, I dont feel sympathy for her when Steinbeck
says that her reddened lips made her seem alive, which reminds the reader that she lived
most of her life trying to impress men, to get attention, and it also signifies the importance of it to
In Conclusion I feel that Steinbeck presents Curleys wife in a negative manner and makes sure
the reader believes that she is a very flirtatious and a tart. This also affects how the reader
judges Curleys wife because of all of the mens dialogue and sexist opinions, which makes us

readers then think that she is a tart and a floozy. On the other hand I believe that towards the
end of the novel Steinbeck shows us readers that Curleys wife was just a young innocent
woman as she is described sweet and young- this reminds the reader of her short life and the
suffering she had been through.

how Steinbeck presents the character of Curleys wife in

Of mice and men . Refer closely to the text in your
answer to support your views.
Throughout the novel Steinbeck presents the character of Curleys wife in a number of ways.
Initially he tells us that she is a beautiful girl who is lonely and she is the only female on the
ranch. Steinbeck explains that she is presented as a sexual object for Curly. Even though she is
the bosss sons wife she is still low in the hierarchy within the ranch. She clearly uses her
sexuality as a weapon and is seen as a sexual predator. This is shown as she wears a lot of red
and ostrich feathers. The red signals love, danger and sex. Unfortunately her sexuality has no
impact on the farm because everyone is scared of being friendly or seen with her due to her
husbands power. She is flirtatious you guys seen Curly anywhere? She asks this just to be
able to enter the stable to be with the men and this is used a decoy to get her to be able to
socialise with the men. Stein beck is giving the reader a negative image of her, almost as a sex
slave. We see this negativity in other characters description of her: George states she is a
rattrap and a tramp , Lennie calls her purdy, Candy states well that gloves full of Vaseline
this refers to the idea that Curley wife is merely viewed by all as an object of sexual desire yet
men are wary of her and avoid contact where possible. She seeks out greater weaknesses in
others in order to protect herself or to survive. This she does with her appearance: full rough
lips, heavily made up eyes, finger nails red, her hair hung in little clusters . Her choices of
clothes are very feminine and tempting desire. She wants to be admired and noticed. Her
actions and mannerisms are also very sexual leans against the door frame so her body is
thrown forward. Steinbeck is trying to present the character as a tease and an object of desire.
This however clearly shows that she is a beautiful and desirable women who is merely seeking
reassurance and love.
Steinbeck presents Curleys wife as not being important. This is evidenced by the fact she has
no name and is only defined by her relationship with Curley. This is quite sad and emphasises
that she has no real family, friends and is the only female. She is Curleys possession and is
used in the novel to show his masculinity and that she is trapped in a loveless marriage. Yet
despite being unimportant she has a big impact on George, Lennie and Candys future dreams
they disappear on her death.

Steinbeck shows the hierarchy of people clearly in the novel. Curleys wife has little power as
men are portrayed as more important. This is shown when Curley orders her to go back to the
house and he treats her as a possession. Sadly the novel refers to her background as not being
happy as her mother instructed her not to marry Curley but she did. Curleys wife is shown as a
lonely character who is desperate for companionship. She flirts with the men on the ranch and
forces her company on them. Sadly she pays the price for her need of company when she
encourages Lennie to stroke her hair and he overpowers her and accidently kills her. The
American dream is key to the novel this means everyone should have equality and hope for
the future. Curleys wife has a dream of becoming a Hollywood star, says I was a natural and I
could have been in the movies This is still her dream to escape from the ranch. This
emphasises her innocence as she still believes she will get her chance in life and these were
her last thoughts before she was killed by Lennie. Steinbeck shows Curleys wife as a victim sweet and innocent in death. No one is sad for her they only worry about Lennie- George is
only worried about Lennies mistake, Curley wants revenge and to be seen as a strong man Im
gonna shoot the guts outta the big bastard Throughout the novel no one shows her any
sympathy: Candy is angry as his dream has been shattered now you god damn
messed things up. She has lived a life without love and without achieving her dream.

Explore the ways Steinbeck creates dislike of and sympathy for

Curleys wife in his novel Of Mice and Men?
Of Mice and Men is a short novel by John Steinbeck, which is set in 1930s America. At this
time in American History they were suffering from a hard hitting economic depression. This book
is set on a ranch in Soledad, California. Throughout this novella, Steinbeck addresses key
theme, for example discrimination, loneliness and the American Dream. Curleys wife is a
complex character. She is the only woman on the ranch. Curleys wife is used as a plot device
by Steinbeck to explore themes like discrimination and attitudes toward women in the 1930s.
Although, she is thought of as a tart at the beginning, throughout the novel we develop our
opinion of Curleys wife. Steinbeck introduces us to Curleys wife through the opinion of Candy.
His views and opinions are misogynistic, when he calls her a tart, making the reader prejudiced
towards Curleys wife before we even meet her. Candy mentions that she got the eye
explaining that she is being flirtatious and immoral as we are told that she is flirt with other men
straight after we are told that she married to Curley. Candy makes us anticipate her entrance
Wait till you see Curleys wife, Steinbeck uses this technique to make the reader want to read
on and find out more. When Curleys wife is first introduced we gain a biased impression from
her description She wore a cotton house dress and red mules reinforcing our original opinion of
a tart. The clothing she wears is also incongruous on a working ranch and expensive during
the economic depression showing that she wants to impress. She is high maintenance as She
had full roughed lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up showing to the reader that she
has to look perfect before leaving the house and needs to look pretty to the men. Steinbeck fully

describes the actions of Curleys wife. This shows physical awareness the men have towards
her, She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body
was thrown forward Steinbecks description of Curleys wife actions is not only to describe the
mens physical awareness of the character but to show the desperation of Curleys wife and
other women in the 1930s. Throughout the speech between George and Curleys wife, she
doesnt sustain eye contact, She looked at her fingernails this implies that she is trying to flirt
with her eyes. This use of body language is in a flirtatious and provocative way. When Curleys
wife enters The rectangle of sunshine in the door way is cut off Steinbeck uses this blocking
light to suggest that Curleys wife is an obstacle, to Lennies and Georges light which is
referring to their dream. This means we do not like Curleys wife as she poses a threat. The fact
that George calls Curleys wife tramp makes us immediately dislike her as we trust Georges
opinions. As her appearance is described first this suggests that others judge her on the way
she looks and her appearance is regarded as her most important feature. This idea is
developed through Curleys wifes sexuality which is evident in her obvious flirting when she
moves so that her body was thrown forward and speaks playfully. Through Curleys wife
actions, Steinbeck suggests that her sexuality is the only form of power she has and is the only
way she knows to gain attention. The first entrance for Curleys wife lives up to and confirms the
impressions created by Candy. Although initially we believe what Candy said, as the novella
progresses more of her character is revealed. When Slim finds Curleys wife, at the end of her
first entrance She was suddenly apprehensive which could suggest that Curleys wife is scared
of Curley and suggests that he is aggressive towards her linking to the theme of violence. The
reader is apprehensive of Curleys wife and the damage she may cause. The men of the ranch
think she is jailbait, and they are scared that they may lose their job. The reader agrees with
what the men on the ranch think as she may lead to the downfall of George and Lennie. At this
point in the novel, Curleys wife is seen with contempt and there is little sympathy for her. The
repetition of the colour red suggests danger and passion, supported by similarities between her
and the girl in Weed. Not only is Curleys wife described as a floozy, but also as threatening.
When she enters the barn where Crook and Candy are, they are both afraid and were scowling
down away from her eyes this prevention of eye contact could be seen that she is exerting
power over the men. She exercises her power by threatening to hang Crooks, I could get you
stung up on a tree so easy, this links to the theme of violence as she acts meanly and cruelly
which reflects the social hierarchy of the time. She goes from being bullied by the men to
bullying the weak ones. Curleys wife gets frustrated by their unresponsive behaviour towards
her. She is used to highlight the racist society and to show the status of black people at that time
in America. The reader maybe apprehensive toward Curleys Wife, yet it is obvious that she may
be lonely. Curleys wife has too much time on her hands Her face was heavily made up this is
shown by how much make up she is always wearing. None of the men on the ranch will talk to
her as they are scared that they may be tempted Maybe you better go along to your own house
now The reason they dont talk to her is that they are scared that they could get into trouble with
Curley. Steinbeck does this to show how isolated women were in the 1930s. Even though

Curleys wife has only been married two week we get told that Curley is at the Cat house and
isnt with his new wife with would suggest that he has no time for her and a lack of love. When
she is in the barn with Crooks, Candy and Lennie talkin to a bunch of bindle stiffs a nigger an
a dum-dum and a lousy ol sheep- an liken it because they aint nobody else this show she will
go to great lengths to talk to somebody and will even talk to the weak ones when nobody is
around. When she is alone in the barn with Lennie, she expresses her loneliness I get awful
lonely she does this to gain sympathy from the reader, although she is telling the one person
who wont understand what she is saying. Curleys wife is the only women on the ranch and this
could link to her loneliness. This links to one of Steinbeck theme, loneliness and how Curleys
wife being female means that she is constantly segregated and isolated because of her gender.
As the reader reads on we start to realise that Curleys wife isnt what we expected. We start to
see that she is more of a victim. Her name Curleys wife suggest that she is a possession of
Curleys Curleys is even cockiern ever since he got married this suggest that she is something
that Curley can show off to the other men on the ranch. Also Slims dog and Aunt Clara all have
name but Curleys wife doesnt which even more suggests that she is object in society. She is
also married to Curley who isnt spends his Saturday evening in the Cat house which does
suggest that Curley has no love for his new wife. Curleys wife has an innate understanding of
society. She understands her positions and knows what she can and cant do. nobodyd listen
to you they are all helpless as society is harsh and what Curleys wife says applies to all of
them in the barn. Curleys wife is only flirtatious and mean to men because it is the only way she
knows who to talk to men. Although she is portrayed as a victim and as lonely, we still see as
manipulative when she talking to Lennie nears the end of the novel. As Curleys wife describes
to use the reason why she is married to Curley it come apparent that she married Curley to get
away from her Mother and then she wants to use Lennie to get away from Curley, Steinbeck
has used this to make the reader feel that Curleys wife is naive and has poor judgement. The
reader can tell that Curleys wife has thought through what she wants Lennie to do and she
thinks that she can use him to her advantage. In this section she is being manipulative you can
break his other han She can see that Lennie can stand up to Curley even if it is only to a basic
level. Although you could argue that Curleyss wife was described as a girl which suggests
innocence and naivety. She is in some ways like Lennie in that she doesnt think before the
action. The clothes she wear can be seen as to be dressing up to look like idols and is hiding
under her makeup. If this is all true then Curleys wife suffered a horrid death which she doesnt
deserve the death she was given. Throughout the novella, Steinbeck looks at the idea of the
American Dream, like George and Lennie, Curleys wife has a dream and that was to be in the
pitchers. Her dream is to be actress but is it really the idea of being an actress or the reason
was that she wanted the money so she would be able to buy the clothes but not to do the work.
She met a man who said she could be in the movies but never got letter, she blames her mother
for never getting letter but it is possible that the men never actually was from the movies and if
he was at the movies then why was he a unknown riverside dance. Also the fact that we are told
about the nasal voice Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality show to the reader that she is

deluded and that she will never make her dream but has them to keep going in what is a
miserable life. Men are prejudice towards Curleys wife on the way in which she looks.
Steinbecks initial portrayal of Curleys wife shows her to be a mean and seductive temptress,
and alive she is the connection to Eve, she brings evil in to mens lives. She is also blamed for
many of the action of Curleys and she is thought of only by how she looks not by how she is.
The final scene for Curleys wife is her death. When she is getting murdered, the sympathy lies
with Lennie. Steinbeck did this to create more sympathy from the reader for Curleys wife. This
is what Steinbeck has been leading up throughout the book and to the downfall of the
relationship between George and Lennie. HEr beauty is shown though when she is dead she
was very pretty and simple, this creates more sympathy from the reader by showing how simple
and pretty she was. Also the to link with the description the word girl is used, to create
innocence. The reader perception of her has changed Ache for attention all gone Steinbeck
wrote this to make the readers realise the abnormality of what has been done and how we can
only see her innocence, simplicity and beauty. The final description of Curleys wife shows us
the girl beneath what the world she lived in made her. Although we see this different side to
Curleys wife, Candy still has his misogynistic opinion of Curleys wife, Everbody knowed youd
mess things up this show that Candy blames Curleys wife for what has happened even though
Lennie was the one who murdered Curleys wife. Candys lack of sympathy towards her creates
more sympathy from the reader. Steinbeck does this to show that Women got blamed for what
the men did even if they had nothing to do with it. In conclusion, Curley's wife was in fact the
victim of her society and although some of her action were in some ways indecent for a newly
married women it, in some way this shows how much she was actually a victim. Also she was
job copying the action and dressing like the actors which she idolised. I personal believe that
Curley's wife was not all to blame for her actions and therefore she did not deserve the death
that she got as it was harsh a brutal.

How Does Steinbeck Present Curleys Wife

in of Mice and Men? Discuss Her
Significance in the Novel.
In the novel Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck tells a story of dreams, hopes and loneliness.
We are introduced to a majorly significant and complex Character, named Curleys wife.
Steinbeck shows us that Curleys wife is flirtatious, mischievous but most of all an isolated
character. She plays a main part in the novel; in doing this she displays and presents many of
the main themes.

Before we are presented to Curleys wife, Candy talks about her, to George and Lennie. She is
spoken about in a gossipy manor. I think Curleys married a tart. Steinbeck is prejudicing or
preparing us before we meet Curleys wife. He does this, so that we have an influenced
preliminary impression of Curleys wife and the way she acts.
We develop an initial perception of Curleys wife as being flirtatious and promiscuous. This is
shown at the introduction, of Curleys wifes entrance. Steinbeck first introduces us to her
appearance, full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes Curleys life has been suggested to us
as someone who is trying to be displayed as a sexual object. She would be doing this to attract
attention. The colour red is often considered for portraying a sign of danger or sex. Steinbeck
portrays these signs frequently, red mulesred ostrich feathers. In doing this, it is suggesting
to the reader that Curleys wife is jailbait.
Curleys wife likes to take care in her appearance. In Steinbecks description of her, he says,
heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters this suggests to
the reader that she is trying to get attention or showing that she is acting as a tart. She has no
reason to pay strong devotion to her appearances; this is because she is married and there are
no other women on the ranch, moreover, she should have no one to impress. We may think that
she is trying to impress her husband, however, later on in the novel, we learn that she does not
like or respect her husband, nor does he respect her. Steinbeck has depicted Curleys wife as
being the property of Curley throughout the novel. He does this by not giving Curleys wife her
own name. Steinbeck, in doing this implies that she has no purpose in the life of the ranch.
We next meet Curleys wife in chapter four of the novel. She is in the barn with Lennie, Candy
and Crooks. This part of the story shows her at a time when she tries to show authority and
anger. She begins to indicate her true feelings of loneliness. Standin here talking to a bunch of
bindle stiffs a nigger an a dum-dum and a lousy ol sheep an likin it because they aint
nobody else. Curleys wife is put across as being a lonely and an ill-mannered being;
nevertheless this is where her isolation is shown. As she is isolated, she is interacting with the
people who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy, and allowing herself to be vulnerable, by
displaying her resentment of her life to them.
Curleys wife has been presented throughout the novel negatively up until her death, which is
the first time Steinbeck presents her with a positive description. She was very pretty and
simple, and her face was sweet and young. Steinbeck presents her in a way that shows she
has no meaning or character. Turned from being a flirtatious tart, too a humble, empty soul. the
discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. All of Curleys wifes negative
fetchers have departed. This suggests to the reader that Curleys wife has been misunderstood,
therefore has change the opinion of the reader.

Curleys wife, lonely, bored and disillusioned; living in denial from a dream of what her life could
have been before marring Curley, to spite her mother, Coulda been in the movies an had nice
clothes all of them nice clothes like they wear. In most of this novel, the American dream has
been played as a main theme and many a time men lose these dreams. However Curleys wife
blames the lose of her dream on her mother, I never got that letter I always thought my old
lady stole it so I married Curley. Not only does this show her naivety, but also her lack of love
for Curley. Steinbeck saying this, proposes her nonexistent respect for her mother and others
around her.
Steinbeck presents Curleys wife as a valueless object and a naive, venerable girl. Through the
complexity of her personality, she unravels the story. Finally, her life has been cut short by the
desire for human contact. Relating too much of the novel, Of Mice and Men is Robert Burns
poem To a Mouse from which the title of the novel comes from, with naught but grief and pain
for promised joy.

How Far Do You Agree That Curleys Wife

Is a Victim and Deserves Our Sympathy?
The novel 'Of Mice and Men' was written by John Steinbeck in 1936. It is set in the society of
the 1920's. The author sets up our perception of the character 'Curley's wife' in a way that
allows us to develop our understanding of her, and enables us to later decide how far we agree
that she is an innocent and vulnerable victim, or a manipulator who deserves her fate.
We are first introduced to the character 'Curley's wife' in chapter two by Candy. We immediately
see her being blamed for causing her husbands arrogance Curley is cockier'n ever since he
got married. An image of her as someone who should be blamed is therefore set up this early
in the novel. Soon after this we get an impression of her appearance. Candy describes her as
purty. This shows she has a pretty physical appearance. When we first look at this comment
we see it as a positive one but when we explore this we see that this could be a bad position for
women when being looked at by men, and that she could be called a 'sex object'. On the other
hand we could say she deserves this impression because Candy warns George and Lenny
about her: She got the eye and I think Curley's married a tart. This comment not only implies
she is someone not to be trusted, but that she is sexually promiscuous and flirts with other men.
They also imply that she is unfaithful as she has only been married to her husband for a couple
of weeks.
Steinbeck then gives us a full description of her. The information contained backs up Candy's

evidence for calling her a tart. She is described as heavily made up, with fully rouged lips,
and red fingernails. All of this highlights her sexual promiscuity, but also, by using the colour
red, we can associate it with things such as danger, passion, and sex. These also show how
attractive and sexually available she is.
She can also be seen as inappropriate and provocative as she wears a 'cotton house dress' out
of doors, which is too personal. Also she is wearing red mules and red ostrich feathers,
hardly the usual attire for a ranch. She has her hair in sausage curls, which makes her seem
slightly ridiculous to the reader. In all, Steinbeck presents a clear and thorough description of
her. Much more can be said about her image as even though her question had been answered
she leaned against the door frame, body thrown forward. This shows that even though she is
being flirtatious, she is desperately seeking attention, and opens our minds to the possibility of
sympathising with her for being so desperate and lonely.
George, who is a character we trust, speaks very negatively about Curley's wife. He is very
sarcastic and after calling her a tramp, and laying emphasis on her promiscuous manner, he
says she's sure hiding it. This sarcasm is powerful because we realise that George thinks the
exact opposite that she's showing her body too much. He insults her further by saying that she
is a bitch. He also highlights the fact that she is manipulative and a trap for all men who dare
to get involved with her jail bait and rat trap. By this point in the novel Steinbeck seems to be
encouraging us to feel sympathy with and understand for George. Therefore we might not
regard these comments as outrageous on first reading. However, when we learn later about the
company she has lived among, we begin to sense she is merely craving attention, and her
promiscuity is the only way she has found to gain it. George expands on this idea by saying a
ranch with a bunch of guys ain't no place for a girl. These words make it clear that she is very
alone in her situation - a rough masculine environment. George says theres gonna be a bad
mess about her.
This shows George is worried about getting involved with her. In response Wit says casually if
you got ideas, you ought to come into town. Wit is suggesting visiting a brothel as a way of
satisfying these urges. He goes on to describe the differences between the two cathouses. The
men prefer Suzy's place because she's a laugh and likes cracking jokes. Suzy even jokes
about the law run here's the sheriff. This reveals that their understanding is so limited that they
find the exploitation and risk involved in prostitution funny. They like the way Suzy is so relaxed
about sex if a guy dont want a flop, why he can just set in the chairs. She talks about it like any
other commodity and accepts that it is a womans purpose. Suzy undermines the rival brothel
'Clara's House', by suggesting that even though it may be more fashionable, the girls have STI's
- if any you guys want look at a kewpie doll lamp and take your own chance getting burned,
why you know where to go. This shows that women like Suzy are forced to be competitive and
to make themselves a business as they have no other way. George accepts this and prefers a

good whore house to having a relationship. The price is his only focus and concern as he says
I ain't puttin out no two and a half. This is an outrageous approach to women and sex which
should not be accepted by the modern reader. But as previously stated, we trust George, and
don't feel much sympathy for Curley's wife, being a woman in this society, until we understand
the victimisation of women in a society where they are forced into a male stereotype.
A stage in the novel where my sympathy towards Curley's wife fluctuates a great deal, is when
she enters Crooks room on Saturday night. First we get another sexual description of her to
further emphasise that she is a tart. She makes an excuse for entering any you boys seen
Curley?- Even though she later says that she knows where he is. This reinforces her loneliness
also. This is an interesting part of the novel because all the people present are victims: Lennie
who has a child like mentality; Crooks who is black and has a crooked back; Candy who is old
and useless, with only one hand; and Curley's wife who is a woman. They are all victims
because the society they live in is prejudiced against them. Steinbeck highlights the fact that
she is unaware of this by using irony when she says they left all the weak ones here. We can
see she is also a 'weak one', and we feel more sympathy for her because she is oblivious to
this. However she has noticed the mens sour approach to her, and she is intelligent enough to
realise that they are scared. Crooks says: we don't want no trouble. Like the other men he's
afraid of Curley - you gotta husband he says, and he'd slough me. In the society of the time a
mans wife was his possession, and she is not allowed any relationship whatsoever with other
men aint I allowed to talk to nobody? In response to Candy she flared up because she is
angry. She shows how she feels about Curley when she says swell guy ain't he. This is very
sarcastic and shows she does not love him. She takes the point further by highlighting his
violent approach to other people and the way he talks so much about fighting spends all his
time sayin what hes gonna do to guys he dont like. This also suggests that he is so self
absorbed that he has no time for her, hence her feelings of loneliness. She feels cooped up in
their 'two by four house', living in an oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere.
So our sympathy towards Curleys wife builds. On the other hand we get a hugely negative view
of her when she goes on to insult Candy and Lennie, and attack Crooks. She uses derogatory
names for them like 'bindle stiffs', and describes them as a nigger, an a dumdum, and a lousy
ol sheep. We perceive her as being the bitch Candy described her as. Our sympathy
decreases further when she targets Crooks with a string of racist abuse, threatening to have him
strung up on a tree. This is no empty threat as we must remember that in their society this was
not an uncommon punishment for a Negro discovered to be having a relationship with a white
woman. Our sympathy for Crooks is however tempered by the obvious parallels in the manner
in which Crooks treated Lennie not long before. Steinbeck tells us how Crooks face lighted in
his torture. We can see the similarities between the two characters, Crooks and Curley's wife,
who have to hurt people weaker than them to make up for the hurt they themselves have
suffered. It is because she feels so vulnerable that Curley's wife seeks out the weaknesses in

others: she preys upon Lennie's mental handicap, Candy's uselessness, Crooks disability and
the colour of his skin. Thus her character becomes more complex and she admits to feeling a
kind of shameless dissatisfaction with her life. The fact that they are all victims of the society
they live in a society where the weak are victimised, isolated, and marginalised, sets our
growing sympathy for Curleys wife in a wider social context, that of an unjust society so we
realise that she is greatly victimised because of this.
We learn more about how Curleys wife is a victim in her marriage relationship when she says
to Lennie, I like machines. We see that she is attracted to him because he hurt her husband.
This shows us how desperate her marriage is and her thoughts towards Curley are only of hate
and revenge sometimes Id like to bust him myself. We see that she is a victim of a husband
who doesnt love her and she is trapped in a society which thinks she should tolerate it.
However we cannot justify her longing for revenge so our sympathy is restricted. Her attraction
to Lennie makes her death inevitable because she is drawn to him. We also discover from her
life story which she expresses so deeply to Lennie that her marriage to Curley may not have
been for love from the beginning but only to punish her mother for ruining her dream ol lady
wouldnt let me, so I married Curley.
Dreams are a major theme in the novel and for Curleys wife, like many other characters she
was driven by them even if they were not properly realised. We sympathise with her when we
see her dream was to be famous in a Hollywood show and we realise it could have been the
exploitation of a girl who is ony fifteen by a man-in the pitchers She is a child so she is a
victim-naive and innocent. However she could be called silly or vain as she had an over
estimation of herself thinking herself a talented actress. When Steinbeck writes little finger
stuck out grandly -to show that she could act we see that this does not prove she has any
talent at all. Also we can assume her speech and vocabulary is not at a high enough standard
for being an actress as she has a nasal, brittle voice. She is therefore deluded but in any
case, overall I think she deserves to have a dream like anybody else so I feel sympathy for her
here. On the day of her death, Curleys wife is very trusting of Lennie she knelt down beside
him and she chooses him to confide in because she knows Curley cant hurt him you can
break his other han. Her attraction to Lennie makes her death inevitable as does the death of
the puppy just before. The irony in the way she implies the dead puppy can be replaced as it is
just a mutt is significant because she too will be easily replaced, makes the reader
sympathetic towards her, because she is unaware of her imminent death. As there is another
repetition of her sexual appearance and she calls him sonny boy we could perceive this quote
as teasing or flirtatious but when we see her genuine kindness dont you worry none we
realise she is just being friendly so we dont see her as a bad person here. Curleys wife is so
desperate just to talk to someone and for them to understand her that when Lennie doesnt and
dismisses her she gets angry and she pours out her soul to him; her words tumbled out in a
passion of communication. I feel very sympathetic towards her here because her extreme

loneliness is clear and repeated many times I never get to talk to nobody, I get awful lonely.
When Curleys wife lets Lennie stroke her hair we can see she is only being kind to him, and
wants him as a friend and thinks he is a kinda nice fella and she is being almost maternal
towards him and realises that he is just a big baby, she isnt inviting a sexual response.
Therefore we see she is misunderstood and I dont see her as a manipulator in any way.
Steinbecks use of structure at this stage in the book is effective as the telling of her life is
followed by the telling of her death and I feel the most sympathy at that point. This makes her
exit from the story have impact. It is emotional which makes us see her as a victim. Our
sympathy increases further when we are shown how disturbing and traumatic her death was.
Her eyes were wild with terror and she struggled violently. We can see how Lennies fear of
getting caught and her fear of Lennie lead to her death, so we see them both as victims in this
situation. In great contrast Steinbeck tells us that she has died in a very sudden and matter of
fact way for Lennie had broken her neck. This makes it shocking whilst remaining so simple in
comparison. Candys dream was destroyed when she died so he is angry and confused. He
leaves her with cruel words and calls her a god dam tramp and thrusts all the blame on her
you done it, dint you? Similarly when Curley is told of her death his only focus is to get Lennie
Ill shoot him in the guts and he ignores Slims appropriate suggestion why dont you stay with
your wife? so we see that he had no real affection for her and he doesnt want to be with his
wife at the time of her death so I feel dreadfully pitiful for her here.
Steinbeck describes Curleys wife in her death and freezes the moment and tells us that sound
stopped so we respond emotionally and sympathise with her. The writer suggests that she is
innocent and beautiful in death and that malice and her flirtatiousness was forced upon her. He
says The meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all
gone from her face and that She was now pretty and simple her sexually arousing
appearance had also gone and we feel the utmost sympathy here as her victimisation all
becomes clear.
In conclusion I altogether agree that Curleys wife is a victim and that she deserves our
sympathy. Based on the fact that her society inflicted the cruelty and desperate crave for
attention upon her, she is a victim many times over and her loneliness is equated with
promiscuity, blame and temptation. However I feel that we could never completely justify her
outrageous behaviour towards other victims in the novel and her longing for revenge against her
mother and her husband. She has made many wrong decisions and she has behaved very
naively in the past. Therefore some of the problems she faces in the novel may have been
brought about by her previous decisions and her victimisation, in some occasions may have
been brought upon herself. Nevertheless I feel she is wrongly characterized and even though
we cant wholly excuse her for these things, the links between her behaviour and the harsh
environment that has suppressed her become increasingly apparent as the novel progresses.

How does Steinbeck use language to present the character of

Curleys wife in of mice and men?
How does Steinbeck use language to present the character of Curleys wife in of mice and
men? Steinbeck uses a lot of stereotyping in his novella, Of Mice and Men. He uses Crooks, a
black man, to show how black people were treated in the 1930s and he uses Curleys wife to
show how insignificant women were in the 1930s. Steinbeck also uses the vernacular
throughout the book to paint a more realistic picture and allow us to understand how people
spoke to each other on the ranch. In Of Mice and Men Steinbeck uses Curleys as a vehicle to
show the sad life of women on a ranch during the 1930s. Steinbeck uses the indefinite article a
girl to mirror and describe how insignificant she is on the ranch, she is not even known as a
woman. Also, to show her insignificance on the ranch Curleys wife is not even given a name
throughout this novella. This suggests that Steinbeck wants us to think of her as an object: only
know by her husbands position, and that she is just a trophy for Curley. It also makes her seem
more friendless and remote because she is only on the ranch for Curley. Even though the men
on the ranch mention her regularly, they dont talk about her character, they only talk about her
in a promiscuous way. Steinbeck uses Candy as a vehicle to tell us about Curleys wife even
before we meet her. George asks Candy if she is purty? and Candy replies yeah, purty
but-Steinbeck wants us to be biased and prejudiced against her before we even meet her.
Candy continues talking about her, letting us know he sees her as a sexual object, just like all
the itinerant workers see women. Also, by using ellipsis and hesitation as he speaks about her
shows how unsure he is of how to describe her. This adds a sense of mystery which surrounds
her. Steinbeck uses the theme of light and dark throughout of Mice and Men. Light and sun
symbolises hope and happiness whilst darkness symbolises the miserable lives of the itinerant
workers, lives with no hope. When Curleys wife makes her first appearance in the novella,
Steinbeck writes, the rectangle of sunshine in the door way was cut off. This suggests that the
itinerant works had little light in their lives as only a rectangle of sunshine existed before hand.
It also suggests that her presence cuts off the light and brings misery. This is also
foreshadowing her effect on George and Lennies dream, as just like they have little hope in their
lives, to have their own ranch, she ruins that too leaving no hope in their lives. This also
symbolises that she is going to cause problems. In the space of one paragraph Steinbeck uses
repetition of the word red four times. He tells us she has full-rouged lips, red fingernails red
mules and red ostrich feathers on her shoes. The connotations of the colour red are negative:
red symbolises the devil, evil, and the idea of seduction. This could also be forewarning us that
she is going to bring danger to the ranch. By stressing how incongruous her clothes and
appearance is Steinbeck also isolates her by making her the only female in detail on the ranch
and by making her seem the sort of women who wouldnt fit in on the ranch by dressing her in
red ostrich feathers. The first words she says are, Im looking for Curley and this sets the

scene for the rest of the novel. In order to show how bad Curleys marriage is Steinbeck never
allows them to meet until she is dead. They never meet through the novel but both spent most
time looking for each other. Later in the novel, when Curley discover her dead the first thing he
says is, I know who done it. Here he is showing no emotion or care emphasising how bad their
marriage was as they didnt even love each other. When we first meet her standing in the
doorway of the ranch Steinbeck uses several adverbs to suggest her promiscuous nature
including playfully when she tells George her husband isnt here I guess I better look
someplace else then. We see how scared she is of her husband, when Slim tells her he seen
him goin in your house and she becomes suddenly apprehensive Steinbeck uses two
adjectives to describe her voice, calling it nasal and brittle which creates the effect of her
being cold and hard. Steinbeck used the adjective brittle to mirror her voice to the difficult past
she had had. When using dialogue for Curleys wife Steinbeck chooses to use an ordinary word
said. Though Steinbeck uses many adverbs throughout his novella, he doesnt use any to
describe her speech. This could be to show how she isnt important enough to be treated as a
person; she is treated as an object. There is a long, detailed description of her appearance but
no adverbs to describe her personality. When all the real men have gone to Susies, the local
brothel Curleys wife enters and says they left all the weak ones here, showing her insecurity
including herself as being weak. Once again she asks, any of you boys seen Curley? even
though she admits a few lines later, I know where they all went and continues even Curley
she is just looking for an excuse to speak to someone showing how lonely she is. Candy uses
lots of first person plural, we and us in his speech. Curleys wife thought they were all lonely
too but now she finally realises that they are all together, whereas she is an outcast. She tries to
fit in by being rude and using the second person singular you towards Candy, she tries to make
him look lonely like her. The three weak ones become a group making her seem even more
out of place. She is an outcast and is always described as standing by the doorway she is
always on the outside, never belonging anywhere. However she realises, because she is with a
group of bindle bums she is the most superior and she is no longer at the bottom of the
pecking order in their presence. Curleys wife uses her power to attack Crooks saying you know
what I can do to you if you open your trap she continues to tell him to keep your place you
nigger. Crooks stared hopelessly at her and grew smaller reducing himself to nothing. Curleys
wife stood over him as though waiting for him to move so she could whip at him again. This
shows that for the one time she isnt at the bottom of the pecking order, she uses all her power
and superiority to reduce Crooks to a nothing, and we can see she thoroughly enjoys it as she
doesnt want it to end. Section 5 starts very pleasantly, Steinbeck opens with a description of the
setting. The language Steinbeck uses creates a very relaxed, quiet and calm picture. Steinbeck
does this to create a contrast: presenting the calm before the storm. The theme of light and
hope is being portrayed here as Steinbeck writes afternoon sun however, it is then sliced apart
as if all hope for the itinerant workers is about to be sliced apart. The last sentence completing
the calm description tells us that there was a buzz of flies in the air and the lazy afternoon was
humming. Steinbeck uses personification and onomatopoeia to create the pleasant and

peaceful atmosphere. Ostensibly, he is describing a beautiful picture however; he introduces

harsh words such as clang to remind us that all is not well. The next time we meet Curleys wife
is in the barn just before Lennie kills Curleys wife. Lennie is mentally challenged so she feels
like she can speak to him. This is the first time Steinbeck allows us to learn about her through
her own dialogue. Steinbeck is encouraging us to have sympathy towards her by using gentle
language and letting her tell us about her background and dream. This is also the only time
Steinbeck uses a synonym for the word said instead he uses demanded. This shows how
trapped she is as the only time she is allowed to show her feelings is just before she dies.
Steinbeck uses a range of long and short sentences here. The short sentences quicken the
pace, building tension and excitement as well as preparing for her death. The long sentences
are telling us about her emotions and giving us time to sympathise with her just before she dies.
Steinbeck furthers the theme of light here In order to prepare us for a tragedy. Steinbeck tells
us, now the light was shifting, as the sun went down. he uses personification and pathetic
fallacy to forewarn us of the tragic things that lie ahead, and suggesting the end of George and
Lennies dream. It also suggests that by the end of this section, the light will be gone, and so will
she. The light has been fading throughout the novella. Her life has been fading away hinting to
her death. When Curleys wife starts struggling underneath Lennies strong, firm hand, Steinbeck
uses the metaphor she wanted to be free. This suggests how desperate she is to get out of her
unhappy marriage and the ranch. Her muffled screaming mirrors how little people on the ranch
listened or took notice of her. Steinbeck describes her as flopped like a fish this makes us
realise that she is like a fish, going round and round the ranch looking for her husband but never
finding him and never moving on in her relationship. Her last breaths are taken just after she
has been commanded by Lennie not to go yellin. This suggests that Steinbeck uses this
imperative to mirror that throughout her life, she has never been in control of anything. Curleys
wifes life ends with the short and unemotional sentence, and then she was still, for Lennie had
broken her neck. This plain, straightforward statement ends her life abruptly showing how little
importance and impact it had, and it creates a memorable moment for the reader through the
use of simplicity and bluntness. The adjective still also suggests that she has stopped fighting
he loneliness because before she was always moving around looking for someone to talk to
because she was so lonely but now shes still. When Curleys wife is dead Steinbeck describes
her in a different way. He tells us the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the
ache for attention were all gone from her face. This suggests that she is much happier in death
than in life, as now she is relaxed and doesnt have to search for a dream which Steinbeck
believes she would never have achieved. Steinbeck tells us she seemed more alive suggesting
that even though she is dead she is more alive than ever as now she is free. This is also the
only time Steinbeck describes her using pleasant adjectives which also agrees with what he
said in his letter to Miss Luce that she is a nice kind girl. Now when she is dead Steinbeck
wants us to see that she is actually a lovely girl it was just that she became hardest when she
was most frightened. In conclusion, I think Steinbecks novel of mice and men was not a novel
of suspense which is why it has such an inevitable ending, but a novel about characters. He

uses the vernacular for all his characters including Curleys wife using many adverbs and
adjectives to give us a detailed picture. Steinbeck uses varying sentence lengths, interesting
verbs and dialogue to present her, he uses her for many different things in the novella: he uses
her a vehicle to show a females life on the ranch, the position of women in the 1930s and the
importance of men, and to introduce us to the American dream that everyone had in the 1930s.
When we first meet her she is presented as a provocative young, girl and kid, it is not until she
is dead when we see her as happy and relaxed.

How Is Curleys Wife Presented in the

Novel as a Whole and What Does This
Show You About Society in the 1930s?
Curleys wife lives in a society where women have no rights and are discriminated against, men
have all power. Curleys wife has such a little effect on society that Steinbeck feels shes not
even worth being a named character. As a victim of this lack of authority, she finds someone to
bully and is presented as a very powerful and intimidating person. Curleys wife intimidates
Crooks in his bunk house and threatens shut it nigga, I could get you strung up on a tree so
easily it aint even funny. Curleys wife does this so that for once, she can feel superior to
someone rather than have to follow orders to her superior husband, Curley. The threat
represents the discrimination in the 1930s, which racism was ok and black people were even
more discriminated against than women. Black people werent allowed to be associated with
other people and Curleys wife is intimidating as for once, she isnt the one being the outcast,
she feels like she belongs in the rest of society. Life should be better and richer and fuller for
everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. The definition of the
American dream in 1931 was for all Americans to hope for a better future. Curleys wife had an
American Dream that she were to work in Hollywood and become a famous actress, but it was
unachieved when she were chosen to marry Curley. Curleys wife is presented as a prisoner of
the 1930s and one of many Americans who gave up on the American dream. Also, she knew
as did many other Americans, if she went for her dream and failed then she would have
nothing, fear prevented her from trying. Steinbeck emphasizes with Curleys wife as she is
marginalized in a microcosm of the society in California, she represents one of the many women
in America who gave up hope in achieving the American dream. Marrying Curley was not her
preferred decision but is the choice she had to make to survive 1930s America, if Curleys wife
wanted to survive the effects of the great depression then she had to secure herself a stable
place in society where living was to an acceptable standard. Curleys wife is in an unhappy
marriage with Curley and her choice to marry Curley presents her as a sly and clever woman
wanting nothing but to survive the times of 1930s. Curleys wife knew that many men hitched
lifts from trucks and trains searching for work, had no dependable income and had nothing to
their name, hence her decision to marry Curley so she wasnt left lonely. Curleys wife knew that
marrying Curley would mean a secure income as Curley is the bosss son, a place to stay at
night on the ranch and food and drink to survive. Sure I gotta husband, you all seen him? Swell
aint he. Curleys wifes sarcasm represents how much she detest Curley but it shows the steps
she was willing to take to being a better off person in the 1930s. Curleys wife feared for her life
as effects of the great depression were taking place and slyly married Curley to secure her
place in society, forfeiting her American dream of being famous, selfishness and fear overruled
by hope. Overall, Steinbeck uses Curleys wifes character as a way of representing the

imprisonment of all Americans in the 1930s, particularly for women. Also, it displays
courageous actions that had to be taken place to live in the depressing times, this makes us
empathise with Curleys wife as her intimidating and unfair actions are due to her being a victim
of the 1930s and the reader sees her actions as justifiable.

With close reference to the text discuss

how Steinbeck presents the character of
Curleys wife in Of Mice and Men by John
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a novel set in 1920 in America this is around the time of
The Great Depression and George and Lennie the two main characters- are two itinerant
workers who are supposed to represent working class men of that time. We are presented with
the interesting character of Curleys wife and this essay will consider how the readers attitude
changes towards her throughout the text.
We are first introduced to Curleys wife when she is supposedly looking for Curley. Steinbeck
makes the reader think that Curleys wife is dangerous and a tart by focusing on her physical
presences such as her fingernails [that] were red, rouged lips and red mules. Stienbeck is
highlighting the colour red, which traditionally symbolizes danger and also Curleys wifes
sexuality, which in that era was a very negative trait for women. The reader should clearly see
that her provocative behaviour as a threat when Stienbeck tells us that she bridles a little and
throws her body forward.
When the reader next comes across Curleys wife it is when the other men are discussing her
and she is view by them as tart. Slim a narrative character and whom the reader is encouraged
to listen to tells us early on that he thinks Curleys wife is a looloo and he goes on to say she
aint concealin nothin Stienbeck clearly wants the reader to view her as a tart by having Slim,
the most respected character, tell us that he thinks she cant keep away from guys this
confirms any doubts the reader may be having as to what sort of a person we are to perceive
Curleys wife to be. When it is said that she is jail bait all set on a trigger the reader is being
reminded that we are supposed to be aware of the trouble she may bring. George also warns
Lennie not to even look at that bitch he also says that he hasnt seen any piece of jail bait
worse than her Stienbeck uses the fact that Lennie is childlike and so George has to warn him
about her to again tell the reader that she should be seen as a threat.
We are told about how young and nave Curleys wife when she talks about being a film star.

Stienbeck indicates that she is young by telling us her face lost its sullenness being sullen is
usually associated with teenagers. Curleys wife tells us a guy tol her that he could put me in
pitchers this shows us how nave she is by thinking that this man was actually going to make
her a film star. Later on in the novel she tells Lennie how she believed her ol lady stole it [her
letter about becoming an actress] Stienbeck makes us understand how innocent and therefore
young she is by showing us that she genuinely believed that her mother took her letter when it is
more likely she didnt get one in the first place.
We are told how powerless Curleys wife is as a character in the scene with Crooks room.
Stienbeck shows the reader how insignificant women were view as in that era by having a
scene with Crooks, Lennie, Candy and Curleys wife. They are the four weakest characters:
Crooks because he is black and in that era racism was normal; Lennie because he is so
childlike and cant really think for himself; Candy because he was old and not of much use to
anyone and Curleys wife because she is woman in that time women were not considered to be
important. When Curleys wife starts to threaten Crooks we as the reader are brought to realize
that she only does this to gain a sense of power and she knows that the nigger is the only
person she could conceivably be more powerful than. Stienbeck wants us to realise how little
importance women were given in that era by not actually giving Curleys wife a name. This puts
into context that actually Crooks potentially does have more power than Curleys wife because
he is a man.
During the barn scene with Lennie the reader understands how lonely Curleys wife is.
Steinbeck highlights how lonely and unhappy she is when she say I never get to talk to nobody
The writer is telling us that even though close bonds like George and Lennies were rare the
men had each other for company and to talk to. The reader is being shown how Curleys wife
has nobody except Curley and she gets awful lonely. When Lennie says that he isnt allowed to
be talking to Curleys wife she say that she isnt doing no harm this just proves how desperate
she is to talk to someone. In the barn scene the reader finds out that Curleys wife doesnt like
Curley. Curleys wife opens up to Lennie and says straight off I dont like Curley she goes on to
say he aint a nice fella. At this point Steinbeck wants the reader to sympathies with Curleys
wife as we already know she is relatively young she may not have realised what she was taking
on when she married him. We also find out that Curleys wife isnt a mean person at heart.
Previously the reader has been told that she is a tart and a bitch but when Lennie tells her
about the puppy her first reaction was to console him and she tells him not to worry. This
shows that despite all the acts she may put on to be noticed underneath she is a kind person.
After Curleys wife has died Stienbeck tells us that she looked sweet and young also that the
ache for attention had all gone from her face. Steinbeck clearly wants the reader to feel
sympathy for her and he does this by portraying her as an innocent girl who has done nothing
wrong. Stienbeck tries to make the reader understand that her being a tart was all an act on

her part to get attention seeing as she was lonely and really just wanted someone to talk to. She
is said to have looked pretty and simple it should now be understood that the reader is
supposed to realise that all the feelings we had for her before we misconceptions and she is
really just this young girl who was unhappy and lonely.
Our attitude towards Curleys wife changes throughout the novel. At the start the readers first
impressions of her are that she is a dangerous character that she is a bitch. The men also
believe this and they tell us that she is a tart and she cant keep away from guys. Then
Stienbeck start to show us that she is lonely during the scene in Crooks room then the reader
also understand that she has no one to talk to. During the scene with Lennie the readers
attitude changes towards her and Stienbeck wants the reader to sympathies with her they
realise how unhappy she is.
Through the use of imagery, symbolism and a variety of other techniques Stienbeck presents
the character of Curleys wife as a lonely girl and because of this a great sense of loss is felt by
the reader at the end of the novel when she is killed.

How Does Steinbeck Present the Theme of

Loneliness Through Curley's Wife in of Mice
and Men? - Notes
The story Of Mice and Men is set in Salinas by the Salinas River - where George and Lennie
spend the night after escaping from their previous ranch in weed just south of Soledad. The
theme of loneliness runs throughout the book and I will be exploring how Steinbeck presents
this theme through the character of Curleys wife. Many of the characters are lonely, and seek
different ways to find comfort, for Candy it is his dog, this is why he finds it so hard to let him go
during chapter 3 The old man squirmed uncomfortably this shows hes in a lot of discomfort,
as he does want to be lonely, and his dog accompanies him. For George and Lennie it is each
other, they often speak about how important it is for them to travel together Guys like us, that
work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world Lennie broke in But not us! An why?
Because because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and thats
why. The quote proves how lonely it is, but Lennie and George prevent this by travelling
together and keeping side by side throughout. The town Soledad means solitary or isolated
which connects with the story well as both the characters and then ranch are both very lonely
and isolated, the ranch is far from everything, Lennie and George have to walk 10 miles from
the nearest town to get to the ranch in the first part of the book. The book is set during the great

depression, this effects the book as it makes it more realistic, during the Great Depression
people travelled to find work, and were fired and hired by the bosses whenever, so it really
brings the book to life, how George fears that the boss will refuse them work, and how he tries
to drill it into Lennie not to step a foot out of line. + In the book Of Mice and Men my first
impressions Curleys wife are that she is very tarty She had full, rouged lips.. heavily made
up Curleys wife likes to make herself look immaculate, and seems very conscious of herself.
She likes to attract the attention from the boys on the ranch. She flaunts herself around lot She
put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown
forward this showed she liked to show off her body, to try and make the other guys appreciate
it. Steinbeck has made the character of Curleys wife very flirty If he aint, I guess I better look
someplace else she said playfully Overall I think this suggest she is a very character and likes
to be the centre of attention, like people to look at her, she likes to get attention off other men
which could suggest she is not content with her marriage. + The men on the ranch are not fond
of Curleys wife; throughout the book she is named tart jailbait. None of the boys on the
ranch are too keen of her and try and keep away whenever possible, though the reason for this
is most probably because they dont want to get on the wrong side of Curley, as Curley is a very
violent character. Curley treats his wife badly; he uses her for his own sexual needs and speaks
down to her, and tells her off he she speaks to the others on the ranch. Steinbeck doesnt seem
to give Slim much of an opinion of Curleys wife throughout the book, although in the book
Candy explains that hes seen her eyeing Slim up I seen her give Slim the eye and as far as
we know, nothing happened between those two which shows he has no interest in her, and
although she tries to attract the attention of the boys, it obviously has little effect. Candy shows
a lot of dislike towards Curleys wife and calls her a tart in the second chapter. In the book
Steinbeck doesnt give Crooks an opinion of Curleys wife; this is probably emphasizing the fact
that niggas didnt have any say in anything. Although later in the book Curleys wife threatens
him I could get you strung up a tree so easy so I dont think - although he doesnt really
show an opinion that Crooks is too fond of her either. George takes an instant dislike towards
Curleys wife and calls her bitch and jailbait Curleys wife tries and talks to George on
multiple occasions but he tends to ignore her and question her right to be talking to him. Lennie
is the only Character in book that doesnt really show any dislike or hatred to her, when he first
sees her he repeats purty, although he is told by George to stay away from her as he doesnt
want there to be no trouble. + Throughout the book Of Mice and Men Curleys wife is never
named, she is always just known as Curleys wife. I think this is an important part of the book as
it shows that she has no individual identity, it shows that she is merely Curleys object. She is
not treated as an individual and is seen by other characters as just a symbol of other things like
Curleys wife. + During the 1930s women were treated a lot differently as they were today. They
were housewives. They were seen as slaves, and the weaker sex they had to take orders
from their husbands and obey them, theyd do chores, they would wash, cook and clean whilst
the men went out and worked. They were treated without respect, they were only wanted for
what they could offer; sex, cleaning. They were just seen as objects and nothing further. Women

were not wanted on ranches, and that is where the role of Curleys wife comes into it. Whilst on
the ranch, as stated earlier, the men are not friendly with her, and I think the inequality between
the two genders back then really affected their views towards her. During the book you really do
see how different it was for woman back then, Curleys wife is always being bossed around, she
is always told off when being seen socialising or chatting with the other men. Shes scared of
Curley. She really is used as an object, Curley shows no affection for his wife, he doesnt seem
to like her, just likes having her there. + During chapter 4 in the novel Curleys wife is rude to
Crooks, she threatens him I could get you strung up on a tree so fast it aint even funny She
threatens Crooks to make him feel small, she talks down to him, she likes to think the others
think she has power, likes them to think shes top dog, that she has control over everyone, eve
though she doesnt but she likes to believe she does because of her previous dream of being in
the movies, when she was at the stage when she thought she was gonna be in movie she liked
to thin k she was above everyone else, and now, now that the dream is over she still likes
people to see her as a strong over powering character, even though she knows she has\s no
authority. This is why I believe she is cruel to Crooks, she knows she cant talk down to the
others, but she knows she can to crooks, so she takes the opportunity to do so she wants to feel
strong and this is how she does so, this is the only way she can. She uses the power of white
over black. You know what I can do to you if you open your trap. + The theme of characters
and their dreams run throughout the book. Lennie and Georges later introduced to Candy and
Crooks dream of having their own small farm. Someday were gonna get the jack together
and were gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an a cow and some pigs. Curleys
wife also has a dream which she tells Lennie about during chapter 5. She talks about her
dreams of being an actress, how close she once was, but then it all ended, she came back to
reality and married Curley because she didnt know what else to do, she married Curley to
escape, but she doesnt like Curley. I dont like Curley. He aint a nice fella I feel sorry for her as
her dreams were crushed and she had to marry Curley, theres no going back now. She really
dislikes Curley and rightly so, hes mean to him but theres no way out of his hold now. + In the
end it all ends rather badly for Curley's wife, just as she starts to grow on you, her life and role in
the book comes to an end. and the meanness and the plannings and the ache for attention
were all gone from her face. this quote in the book is almost as if shes just been released from
all of this, like it was a good thing it happened, that she is now free from all of the torture she
was put through during her time with Curley. She will no longer be living in loneliness and will no
longer seek for attention and be forever ignored. Shes no longer trapped in the circle of misery
she had to live every day. + Throughout the book my opinions on Curleys wife change a lot. To
begin with she is introduced as a very flirtatious character, who is determined to look good at all
times, to grab all the mens attention. And she maintains this all the way throughout the book.
Even at the very end, just before she dies, when she invites Lennie to feel her hair, she only
tells him to stop when she claims hes messing her hair up. Dont you muss it up this shows
she really is very concerned about the way she looks at all times. Later in the novel she begins
to grow on you. You begin to feel sorry for her and begin to think she is just misunderstood, she

is just lonely, has she have married the right man and got her dream she would have been a
very different character. Though this is not the case so she lives being miserable and unwanted.
Although towards the end I began to warm to Curley's wife it cant help but think she had
escaped all the pain and unhappiness that would haunt her for the rest of her days had this not
been the ending.