Curleys Wife: Miss Dynamite or lonely victim? Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 14 November 2017

Curleys Wife: Miss Dynamite or lonely victim?

Throughout the book Steinbeck changes Curley’s wife in different ways. He makes the reader feel hatred, sympathy, annoyance and love for Curley’s wife. These different interpretations create an unusual feel for this character. It is difficult to pinpoint one particular character that she is, as our opinions change regularly in the book. Since the beginning of the book Curley’s wife has come across very confident, lustful and bold. She puts on a confident, troubling image to start but as the book progresses she slowly reveals the lonely, apprehensive woman she really is.

This image gets her in to a lot of trouble and makes her come across bad. She isn’t liked by the farm-workers, and they treat her very badly. At the start of the book George refers to her as ‘Jesus, what a tramp’ and ‘… no piece of jail bait worse than her,’ these comments show how she comes across to the new characters and how little respect she has on the farm. The hierarchy on the farm is one of the main problems through the book. It causes jealously, rivalry and trouble. Curley’s wife status on the farm is right at the bottom.

I feel that throughout the book she’s always thriving to reach some sort of status or level within the community on the farm. I think this because in the book when she asks what happened to Curley’s hand and they don’t tell her she calls them all names, ‘Standin’ here talking to a bunch of bindle stiffs -a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep. ‘ This shows Curley’s wife trying to grasp some sort of confidence by humiliating the other characters. By calling them names she feels almost superior and special, which is what she always wants.

Women are treated with very little respect and were never equal to men in this time. She belongs to Curley like an object or a possession. This is when her lonely victim side of her shines through because she is treated so badly we feel sympathy and sadness for her. A good example to show how women are treated in this day is by her name. In the book we always refer to her as Curley’s wife and never know her actual name that shows how controlling and male-dominated the farm is towards women.

At the point in the book where she dies our troubling/ attention-seeking hatred towards Curley’s wife disappears as a sympathetic and sad feeling takes its place. When she tries to break free of Lennie and squirms in his arms we feel a sudden sadness for her, although some people would say that she brought it on herself through her attention seeking ways, others would feel sympathetic. Steinbeck changes the image very well in this chapter, as we start to doubt our previous opinions on Curley’s wife.

In the chapter it says, ‘And the meanness and the planning’s and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. ‘ This extract reveals a completely different side to Curley’s wife and makes us think more deeply about our attitude towards her throughout the book. It quotes all the reasons we used to hate Curley’s wife in the past and compare it with her now, laying peacefully on the hay.

Steinbeck changes Curley’s wife character a lot, which makes it hard to answer whether she is Miss Dynamite or a lonely victim. I think that Steinbeck’s intentions were to make us feel sympathetic towards her but also to have a hidden hatred for her previous attention-seeking character. In conclusion, I think that this question of whether Curley’s wife is Miss Dynamite or a lonely victim cannot be answered. Steinbeck changes the character too much throughout the book so that you can never pinpoint a true opinion.

Only till the end do you realise a true sense of loneliness and sympathy, but while she was alive she was an annoying/ troubling character, which will always linger in our minds when we try to understand her image. Jemma Davis Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.

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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

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  • Date: 14 November 2017

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