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

Authors Avatar by lavabat785gmailcom (student)

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. ‘Fingernails were red…cotton house dress and red mules…red ostrich feather.’ As she is wearing a lot of red, it could be telling us that Curley's wife is attempting to attract the attention of the other ranch workers, because of her being lonely. This is because he is the only female on the ranch. Curley's wife is also wearing red as a sign of love, which she may not be getting from Curley – this could be the reason why she is seeking attention of other men.
On the other hand, the colour red, could portray danger, again suggesting that the ranch workers should stay away from her. ‘full rouged lips and wide spaced eyes which were heavenly made up’ this quote implies that she takes pride in her appearance, also the work ‘heavenly made up’ which could suggest that she is wearing a lot of makeup, perhaps to gain attention of the other ranch workers.

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When Curley’s wife leaves the bunkhouse Georges remarks about her to Lennie, reinforcing the idea that she is a ‘tart’ and could cause ‘trouble’ for them. George’s impressions of her, are universally negative.  He says to Lennie ‘Jesus, what a tramp’. This could suggest that George knows that Curley’s wife will be a bad influence on Lennie and could affect their dream.
George also says ‘so that’s what Curley picks for a wife’ this could propose that women in those times were seen as unimportant; only as object owned by men.
George also says, ‘so that’s what Curley picks for a ...

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