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Explore the ways in which CW is presented & developed in `Of Mice and Men'
How does Steinbeck describe Curley's wife at different points in the novel and how do these descriptions
shape our feeling of her?
Page 53 - Curley's Wife is first described `She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up.' This
makes her seem like she's trying to do herself up like the women prostitutes as if she's trying to making herself look
sexy. The men at the ranch only really see two types of women wives and prostitutes and they clearly don't see the
two types mixing together so when they see CW wearing clothes and make up that are stereo typical of prostitutes,
they automatically assume she's a prostitute as in their eyes, wives don't look this. She has a lot of time to do her
make-up and hair which emphasises that she's quite lonely and bored.
However, when she speaks `her voice had a nasal, brittle quality' which doesn't consist with the sexy appeal and
suggests that her true personality isn't someone who's naturally sex driven but is putting the personality on.
Page 78 "She ain't concealin' nothing. I never seen nobody like her. She got the eye goin' all the time on
everybody" says Whit. CW is trying to dress up like the women in the cathouse because she feels that this is what
men like and she wants to be appealing to them to get their attention. The conversation between the ranch workers
after this statement turns to the `cathouses' which suggests they associate the way she dresses (very appealing) is
like the women in the cathouses which could be why they are getting the impression they have of her.
Page 111 CW is horrible to the three weak men on the Saturday night in Crook's house. She calls them `a nigger an' a
dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep'. This would make the reader not like CW because she is hostile and harsh and not a
very nice person. Steinbeck might be showing that such a hostile harsh environment can change a person to become
hostile and harsh themselves.
Page 123 CW speaks soothingly and `consoled him (Lennie)'. She is described here as sympathetic and caring. This is
the first time anyone has given her the chance to speak so this allows her true personality to be shown. She moves
closer to Lennie to make him feel better and not so alone.
Page 125 CW admits that she could have been in some movies and shows her passion for acting and stardom. She
says she `coulda been in the movies, an' had nice clothes like they wear... ...an' it wouldn'ta cost me a cent because I
was in the pitcher. An' all them nice clothes like wear.' This suggests that actually CW wears these nice clothes just
because she LIKES them, not because she's trying to look sexy. She is wearing them because they allow her to partly
live her dream.
Page 129 CW, now dead, is described as the same as she was when she was first described in the book. `The curls,
tiny little sausages, were spread on the hay behind her head, and her lips were parted.' This could be that Steinbeck
is trying to show that all she lived for was to look good. The description this time round though has a very different
feeling to it; in this description she appears young and pretty, like a child that has put on make-up to dress up, not
someone who is trying to look like a prostitute. This makes her seem more innocent and vulnerable, she sounds a bit
like a china doll.
What roles do women have in the book? What do characters say about Curley's wife? In what ways is she set
apart from other women? Is Steinbeck's portrayal of women in general and Curley's wife in particular, sexist?
Page 27- Lennie cannot even remember his own Aunt Clara. He does however remember that she used to give him
nice things. This could be just a part of Lennie's nature or Steinbeck could be showing that Lennie just thought of his
Aunt Clara as an object or something that dispensed nice things rather than a human being.
In Section One it is clear that George looks after Lennie partly for Lennie's Aunt Clara. This shows that George must
have had a lot of respect for certain women if he would go as far to spend his life looking after somebody for them. It
could be showing that these men saw certain women, for example motherly family women, as important people.
Page 49-50 When Candy is describing women, the first question George asks if she's "Purty?". George doesn't
even know her name yet the only thing he seems to be bothered about is whether she looks nice. This suggests that
the men on the ranch see her more as an object rather than a human being.
After Candy has described her to him, George immediately accepts Candy's description as if this is what he expects
of women. George judges her before he knows her and treats her differently because of it. He calls her a "bitch" and
a "rattrap" after their first conversation even though she hasn't deserved any of it. The men at the ranch had a set in
stone prejudice view so believed what they heard about her.
Page 77-78 CW is described as a "New kid" and "Looloo" by Whit which makes her seem like a young child that isn't
important and as a pretty young thing that just is looking for attention. The men don't see her as a woman. George
asks whether she has "been any trouble since she got here?". This suggests that George blames women for trouble,
as if they are the cause of bad events, which is pretty sexist.
Immediately after they are talking about CW, the men start talking about cathouses. Whit's description of the
cathouses is pretty straightforward and simple because the guys know what they like and what they expect. The men
on the ranch see women as an object to be used for sex.
Other pages in this set
Here's a taster:
The men also blame women for STIs. "There's guys around here walkin' bow-legged `cause they like to look at a
kewie doll lamp". This links back to when George asks whether she's caused trouble and earlier on in the book Candy
blames her for Curley's meanness. The men see women as people who cause trouble. They immediately don't like
her and tried to avoid her as they don't want to be caught up in any trouble themselves.…read more
Here's a taster:
Candy's final judgement of Curley's wife is that she was a `tramp' and `tart'. How do you think Steinbeck wants
us to feel about her at the end and what has he done to make us feel this way?
Page 126- `Curley's wife moved away from him a little. "I think you're nuts" she said.…read more