How is Curley's wife developed through the novel?

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How is Curley's wife presented and developed between P76
and 81?
On page 76, the scene starts with Candy and Lennie talking to Crooks (the stable boy) in his
bedroom. Lennie is describing his dream house with George, and how he will tend the rabbits, the
goats and the chickens. This seems a very far off dream for both the other men, and they go along
with it and also dream how it could come true. This is all interrupted when Curley's wife appears at
the door.
Curley's wife interrupts by asking the three men if "Any [of them] seen Curley?" Steinbeck uses
the same description "heavily made up" as when we first come across her in the book. This already
indicates that she probably knew the three "weaker" men were left behind and wanted to `dress to
impress.' Our view of her at the beginning of this scene is still very balanced because although we
feel sorry for her, because she has a horrible husband, we also feel that she's trying to take
advantage of the men.
Curley's wife shows a bit of sexual domineering power in this chapter. It's a power that only is
portrayed through her, because she's the only woman in the novel, and therefore the men are
fascinated by her but are also cautious about her, incase they get "canned." She uses this to try and
exploit the men's feelings. This works to a degree because Lennie watches her "fascinated" and his
eyes are fixed on her whilst the other two men are scowling at their hands, away from any eye
contact with Curley's wife.
Another bad impression that is portrayed, is that she's so desperate, she'll flirt and get sexual with
anyone. An example of this is that she flirts with Crooks who is the black stableman. At the time of
publication in 1937, black people were considered the lowest end of society almost like
untouchables. This shows that she is very much a harlot, and willing to sleep around.
We gradually feel more sorry for her as dialogue begins between the men and her, as she describes
how she's lonely, and has no one else to talk to and therefore elucidating why she talks to the men.
When she flares up and starts talking about how much she hates her husband, we as readers feel
extremely sorry for her, as she's with someone in a small "two by four" house that she hates. She
doesn't like how her husband makes out he's a tough guy and will give anyone the "ol one two" and
knock anyone down that he doesn't like. I think the fact that Curley's wife doesn't like the main
"enemy" in the story is another reason why we would like her more. If she hates the enemy,
although we may not like her, she's on our side in hating Curley.
Curley's wife is also a very intelligent, because she picks up that Curley's hand wasn't trapped in a
machine, and wants to know how it really happened. The men squirm under this authoritative
intelligence and just try and bluff their way out of the situation by lying. This consequently leads to
Curley's wife getting more annoyed and tells them her mind. She says how she hates her life,
staying at home talking to a "nigger an' a dum dum and a lousy ol' sheep" instead of going out on a
Saturday night enjoying herself.
When she links the bruises on Lennie's face to her wife's crushed hand, she interrogates him and he
cracks under the pressure by almost telling her that he was the "machine" that crushed Curley's
hand. She flirts with him and says, "I like machines" this brings our thoughts of her back down to
the silly tart that Curley has married.
When Candy steps up to defend Lennie and Crooks goes back into his old negro defensive state, she
comes down on them like a ton of bricks. She attacks Crooks' race and tells him how she could "get
[him] strung up on a tree so easy" This really shows a nasty side to her and how she unleashes her
power as the boss' daughter-in-law saying she can have him killed in an instant.

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I think that the final two pages show a very dramatic change in the way Curley's wife is portrayed.
She comes across in the beginning as a low level disruption, but here really shows her true colours
lashes out verbally on Crooks. I think that her character develops towards a very sad person, but
also becoming a disliked character before the end.…read more


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