Curley's Wife

This is my own interpretation of the importance of Curley's Wife and how she relates to the main themes in 'Of Mice and Men'.

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  • Created by: Tangila
  • Created on: 17-12-11 21:09
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Is Curley's Wife an important character in 'Of Mice and Men'? How does she fit into the themes of the novel?
In the novel, 'Mice and Men' the others characters refer to her as Curley's wife making her the only
character John Steinbeck has created without a name. By not giving her a name she seems like an
insignificant character but Steinbeck uses this technique to emphasise the position of women in society. From
her name, it suggests she is Curley's possession rather than a person with her own individual identity. Through
Curley's wife, the theme of sexism is emphasised therefore making her an important character in the novel.
He illustrates this theme through Curley's wife as women in the 1930's were powerless simply because of
their gender.
In her initial appearance, Steinbeck describes her as wearing, 'a cotton house dress and red mules,
on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feather'. Curley's wife is wearing clothing which
would be worn when going out on a special occasion. This is inferred by the 'bouquets of red ostrich feathers' as
in those times, ostrich feathers were considered to be a rich person's belonging or a belonging worn during an
outing. She seems to be roaming around the ranch to gain attention from other ranch workers despite being
married to Curley, the bosses' son. This is not only suggestive of her flirtatious nature but the fact that she is
lonely and desperate for a companion. It seems as though she does not receive this from her marital
relationship with Curley.
Furthermore, 'cotton house dress' is suggestive that her position lies inside her house. As John
Steinbeck places her in this cotton house dress, it emphasises this but it also suggest that without the dress
she wouldn't belong in the house. Steinbeck seems to be voicing his views that women shouldn't be trapped in
a house and it also shows her behaviour that she is not homely but she is made to be. Also, the use of 'house'
shows that she is a part of an artificial scene implying that she is living in atmosphere where she has no
importance which is a contrasting atmosphere to if she was living in her 'home'. He uses this to reinforce the
idea that women were isolated with no rights and society was shaped in a way where women belonged in
their house and were objects for men.




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