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How is Curley's wife presented in "Of Mice and Men"?

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Curley's wife is utilized be Steinbeck to symbolize how women were perceived and treated during 1930?s America. Throughout the novella Curley?s wife is marginalized and is distinguished as an object, only being valued for her appearance, due to her gender. At the start of the novel, our reaction towards her are essentially negative, seeing her as a ?tramp? and ?jailbait?. However, our attitudes towards her start to change, and we begin to sympathy for her, along with understanding the attitudes for her actions and attention seeking. Steinbeck describes Curley's wife through Candy. He describes the negative image of her to George and Lennie, which were associated as rumours, spread between ranch workers. The fact that she is introduced by rumours, means that the reader will already have a biased opinion of her, before she even enters the scene. Candy mentioned that Curley's wife ?has the eye?. This could suggest that she is flirtatious with the ranch workers, and that they have a negative opinion of her. And could there for be a danger to George and Lennie?s dream, because of her being the wife of the boss?s son, who could theoretically remove them of ranch. Steinbeck situates this, despite knowing that she is married, implicating that Curley's wife is a ?tramp?. When Steinbeck first presents Curley's wife, her appearance in chapter 2 has persuaded us that Candy?s perspective of her was right. ...read more.


Whit also calls Curley's wife a ?jailbait?. At this point in the novel there is a universal opinion of Curley's wife, that she is an object owned by men. This is point is heavily supported due to that fact that Curley's wife?s name has not actually been used in this novel, except she is being referred to as ?Curley's wife? and negative opinions. This could show the life that most women lived during the 1930?s. As we keep on learning about Curley's wife, we start to discover that she may not really be a ?tart? yet just a lonely and abused woman, whose thoughts for men are probably not sexual in nature, but mainly to get some attention. Throughout the start of the novel, we build a corrupt impression of Curley's wife, however in chapter four, Steinbeck starts to create sympathy towards her character. When Curley's wife converses with the ranch workers she says: ?everybody out doin? sompin, everybody! An what am I doing, talking to a bunch of bindle stiffs?. This quote could signify that Curley?s wife is being marginalised from the rest of the people on the ranch. This could most likely be because she is a women and at that time women were only seen as objects and had no importance. The use of the word ?bindle stiffs? show the anger of her being lonely. ...read more.


This is a familiar theme of the American dream, so prevalent in this novella, except from a woman?s perspective. After finding this out, our attitudes towards her may change, because we have finally found out her reasons for behaving in this manner. This could create a sense of innocence for her. After Curley?s wife?s death, we see a distinct difference in how we as an audience see her and the attitudes of the ranch workers towards her. ?The meanness and?the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face.? This quote shows that after all the stress and things life had placed on her, she has finally relaxed and is at ease from the suffering she received from the ranch workers and her unfulfilled dreams. ?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. However in this scene the makeup applied to her face make her seem more innocent and humble than how she was presented dangerously in the beginning of the novel. Throughout the novel Curley's wife is presented in three ways. She is an object of fear and apprehension. A powerless person, belonging with the others in this category. And a dreamer, incapable of grasping her dream. In these three ways, we come to see Curley's wife as a full-fledged member of the powerless class. She is more alike to Crooks, Candy and Lennie than she is different. ...read more.

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