Explain the importance of Curley's Wife in the novel

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Explain the importance of Curley’s Wife in the novel


  • Symbols – red lipstick
  • Not given a name

Curley’s wife may seem an insignificant character because she has not even been given a name by Steinbeck.  Her name suggests that she is nothing more than one of Curley’s possessions. When she first appears in the novel, she is dressed up as if she is planning on going out into town, rather than just spending her day wandering around the ranch.  The image of her being a sex object is emphasised by the fact that Curley keeps a ‘glove fulla Vaseline’, for her benefit.  However, Curley’s wife is influential to the book as she characterises loneliness, the longing for the American dream, danger and sexism.  Her appearances in the novel are extremely important at they change the entire mood of the scene in which she appears in.

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We see that the first time we are introduced to Curley’s wife, she is heavily made up; “full, rouged lips”, “red fingernails” and “red mules”.  The colour red symbolises danger and sexiness, and the fact that she is wearing these items creates a sense of foreboding that she will be the cause of George and Lennie’s failure to achieve their dream of having their own plot of land.  Another symbol is shown by “the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off”.  This immediately creates a sense of danger and doom in the reader’s mind due to the ...

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