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Character Analysis

Curley's wife has a lot of names, but we can't repeat any of them in mixed company. Let's just call her trouble: she's a good-looking woman who knows it, wearing makeup, form-fitting dresses, and ostrich-feathered high heels. (Which—let's just say it—maybe a tad impractical for a ranch?) She's basically like the Pioneer Woman, only less tech-savvy.

Poor Little Not-So-Rich Girl

But we're tender-hearted here at Shmoop headquarters, and we can't help feeling a wee bit bad for this poor girl. As the only woman on the ranch, her life is lonely, and Curley isn't much company: he'd rather talk about himself than anything else. Not that she's out to make friends, or anything. When she wanders across some of the men, she says "what am I doin'? Standin' here talkin' to a bunch of bindle stiffs—a ****** an' a dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep—an' likin' it because they ain't nobody else" (4.103).

Way to make friends and influence people, Curley's wife.

She also talks a lot (well, twice) about how she could "of went with shows. Not jus' one, either. An' a guy tol' me he could put me in pitchers" (4.102). Was she really on the road to Hollywood glory? Well, probably not. The point is that, just like all these ranchhands with their dreams of owning their own farm, Curley's wife has—or had—a dream. And, like them, she's working with her body. They sell their labor; she sells (or at least peddles, because it doesn't seem…


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