Of Mice and Men was written in 1937 by John Steinbeck. It was set whilst we was in the great depression. Referring to how during the great depression women were oppressed and treated less equally to men. Steinbeck may have portrayed women in this light to allow the reader to recognize the inferior role of women at that time. The lack of name demotes Curley’s wife to insignificant status. Her lack of identity implied she is not woman but rather a possession of her husband.
This character develops, we find that she is not in fact the unimportant, nameless character we first perceive her as, but rather she is a relatively complex and interesting character. Steinbeck presents her in many ways throughout the story changing the reader opinion of her all the time. In section 2, Curley’s Wife is first presented to us through the dialogue of ranch-hand Candy, when he describes her to George, the reader begin to create an image in our head of what Curley’s wife looks like.
Curley’s wife has no respect from the other men at the ranch. Candy uses expressions such as ‘she got the eye’ and goes on to describe her as looking at other men, before eventually calling her a ‘tart’. Through Candy’s words, we develop an initial perception of Curley’s Wife as flirtatious ‘tramp’ and even immoral. The word ‘tart’ suggests she presents herself in a flamboyant manner, which portrays her desperation to be noticed. Steinbeck enables the reader to see Curley’s Wife through Candy’s eyes on their first encounter with her.
Further into section two we get a better understanding of Curley’s wife appearance. This reinforces the reader’s thoughts about her. Steinbeck uses the colour red which supports candy’s idea of her being a tart. The colour red is sexualised. Steinbeck repeats the word red many times throughout the passage of her Characterizations. He states her having “full rouged lips” and “her finger nails were red” red is a bright colour this suggest that curley’s wife wants attention from the other men on the ranch.
” She has red mules” and “red ostrich feathers” these are expensive so she is trying to impress the men and ostriches are exotic animals, which could her influence her wild side. On the other hand, Curley’s Wife’s appearance could be seen as naivety and simply youthful desire to be found attractive. Red is a primary colour therefore children are attracted to it, it is a colour children want to wear because it is bright and has an element of happiness in it. Therefore Curley’s Wife wearing the colour red may symbolise a child’s attraction to bright colours portraying her as youthful.
Steinbeck describes her to wear a “cotton dress” which is everyday clothing, this juxtaposes against all the red. A cotton dress is more practical to wear at a ranch, so the reader are hesitant, but there is more affirmation to support her being a tart. Steinbeck’s explanation of Curley’s wife plays with the reader’s opinion on her personality. Steinbeck says “her voice had a nasal, brittle quality” which means it hard but liable to break. This indicates that she may look tough on the outside but Curley’s wife can easily be hurt.
Steinbeck then describes her to be sneaky and that she is then dishonest to Curley as when she reaches the barn with the Lennie, Candy and Crooks “she breathed strongly as tough she had been running” She is sly and want to get away from Curley so then she can go and talk to other men as she does not get that attention from curley this could suggest that their marriage is not true and curley just uses her to feel good about him sly and impress other guys on the ranch wear as the men are not bothered about her.
We get across that she can be lonely as Curley does not give her the amount of attention as she desires as Curley’s wife “think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in a while? ” this is where we get to see her innocent side and the reader start to feel sympathy for her as there is no other women she can speck to just men and curley. When she is alone in the barn with Lonnie she expresses more about her being lonely she is repeating this regularly throughout the scene “why can’t I talk to you?
Dhe will talk to the man that hurt her husband’s hand which reinforces that she is desperate to talk to anyone. “I get awful lonely”, “I get lonely” trying to get Lennie sympathy. Steinbeck shows that she is flirtatious and describes her being flirtation a lot. Curley’s wife uses her flirtatious action to get attention “ she moved closer to him and she spoke soothingly” which will relax Lennie and then he will be more attract to Curley’s wife.
After Curley’s wife is dead the writer uses a simile to describe what she looks like whilst she is dead “her body flopped like a fish” which signifies that she is lifeless and fish is not a nice thing to be described as this proves she is not an important member on the ranch and hat she is not cared and has affection from other characters. After her death Steinbeck describes her appearance so that she would like she did want attention “the meanness and the planning and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face” which could suggest that her death had proven that she was just a person In need of some comfort.
We then as the reader mainly fill sympathy for her. When we are hearing Curley’s wife actions in candy perception we get a negative impression of her and she is not a loyal newlywed as candy said “I seen her give the slim the eye. Curley never seen it. An’ I seen her give Carlson the eye. ” Which implies that she can’t just live with the attention from just Curley but she need it from other mum to fell her need and as Curley has never seen it suggest that she has sneaky action and going behind his back to eye up other men.