“Explore some of The Ways That Steinbeck Presents Good and Bad in his Characterisation of Curley’s Wife”
Curley’s Wife is a complex and main character in John Steinbeck’s novella, “Of Mice and Men”. Curley’s wife is the only female character in the novella. Steinbeck uses different methods to explore good and bad in his characterisation of Curley’s wife.
After the First World War in 1930, the great depression saw many jobs being lost – women were the first to be “let go”. Main professions for women were wifehood, motherhood and others worked as prostitutes. A married woman, defined as being one with her husband, gave up her name and all her property, come under her husband’s control.
Steinbeck never introduce Curley’s wife throughout the novella or gave her own name to show her to the reader that although she is an important character in the novella but she is insignificant in the 1930’s society. I think that Steinbeck does this to show that she is in Curley’s possessions.
Steinbeck use different language techniques to create a mental image in readers mind before she even enter the novella. Candy introduced Curley’s wife to George and Lennie saying that she’s “Purty” but more importantly, that she’s “got the eye.” She likes to look at other men, Candy says he’s seen her look at slim, for instance, and Carlson too. Candy sums up his comments about Curley’s wife by concluding “well, I think Curley’s married….tart”. This perception is further emphasized by Curley’s wife’s first appearance in the novella. “The rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. A girl was standing there looking in”. Steinbeck portrays her in a horrible manner. He shows her as unintelligent and as an unimportant figure. The word sunshine refers to hope, freedom, happiness and dreams. This foreshadow that she may cause trouble or come in the way and could ruin it all for Lennie and George. Steinbeck also describe her as a “girl”, which tells us she is very playful, childish and vulnerable.