Curley's wife character analysis

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Of Mice and Men
character analysis.
Curley's wife (CW) is a harsh portrayal of women at the time John Steinbeck wrote the novel `Of
mice and men' which was the 1930s. At the time, women were treated as objects and the attitude of men
was very materialistic. Instantly in the book, from beginning to the end, CW has no name. This represents
the attitude that male society had towards women, that they were a possession with less rights and worth.
Despite the fact that Curley has only been married to his wife for 2 weeks (still honeymoon period)
she is largely ignored and put aside by Curley. Consequently, she gets very lonely on the ranch and, starved
of any other female company, the only company she finds on the ranch is that of the ranch workers, male
company. Due to the fact she is always found with the men she is seen as a hugely flirtatious woman and
this is reflected in the opinions of her from others point of view. In the text Candy says, `I think Curley's
married...a tart'. She tries to justify this and she has a fair point. In Chapter 4 quite late into the book she
says `think I don't like to talk to somebody ever' once in a while'. If she were ugly, she wouldn't be such a
problem to the men in the book but she is described as `She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on
the insteps of which were little bouquet of red ostrich feathers..." (chapter 2)and also, `Her face was heavily
made up and her lips were slightly parted.' The description of `lips slightly parted' suggests her flirting and
perhaps the fact that even she has been brainwashed by the attitude of men and she might even see herself
as a sexual object. Since she is attractive George describes her as `jailbait' and this basically sums up his
low opinion of her a flirtatious woman, starved of company, love and appreciation within her marriage and
also not trustworthy.
There is another side to CW, one that is cruel and petty. She deliberately flirts with the ranch workers
and they therefore get in trouble with Curley (her husband) .She does not hide her flirting from her husband
which probably infuriates him. None of the men flirt with her as they have all learned not to, all except Slim.
Since Slim is the `king' of the ranch he is the only one brave enough to flirt with her, saying to her `hey good
lookin'' when she walks into the bunkhouse. She singles out the weaker men on the ranch and mocks them
to make herself feel bigger, she teases Candy for his old age, Lennie for being stupid and most harsh of all
threatens Crooks with a lynching. However, Candy replies to her mocking remarks saying `You got floozy
idears about what us guys amount to'. Candy means that despite the fact that she is attractive he doesn't
think much of her and is not at all impressed by her constant flirting.
CW is selfobsessed and whenever she can, she talks about herself. Twice in the book, she
explains that she could have been a Hollywood movie star but that her Mother believed she was too young.
Dreams is a big theme within `Of Mice and Men' and she has a big role in this theme, sadly for her, it is the
theme of shattered dreams. When she overhears Lennie's wistful dream of the farm she laughs and mocks
him as her dreams didn't come to fruition and she obviously believes that no dreams come true. It was her
selfobsession that eventually led to her death. She knows that she should stay clear of Lennie as though he
doesn't understand, he is a danger to her and her wellbeing. However, she thrives on his attention and
wants praise of her soft hair. She is seen as a `temptress' by most of the ranch workers but since Lennie
isn't the brightest of the bunch he doesn't understand why he should stay clear of her as she is a
manipulator of men and could cause Lennie to do something stupid, something he subsequently does...
Lennie, throughout the entire book is drawn in and fascinated by her and constantly repeats `she's purty'
(pretty). CW understands that her beauty is her power and she uses it throughout to manipulate the ranch
workers or as Whit says, `She got the eye goin' all the time on everybody.'
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