Of Mice and Men is a microism of 1930s American society. Following the 1929 Wall Street Crash,, America went into the Great Depression, which lead many Americans to realise that the American Dream was never really possible. We see Curley’s Wife as a representation of women in America at that time. John Steinbeck’s novella of Mice and Men set in rural California during the Great Depression centres the friendship of two itinerant ranch workers: George Milton and Lennie Small. On arrival at their new employment, George and Lennie meet Curley’s Wife – the flirtatious; pretty; lonely young wife of the Boss’ son, Curley.
Many people would argue that yes Curley’s Wife was a victim, for reasons being: she was forever lonely and unable to talk to other members of the ranch. “Why can’t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely. ” This proves Curley’s Wife is an outsider like Crooks who is lonely-she just wants somebody to talk to.
This picks up the theme of loneliness in the 1930s American society; Curley’s Wife is not happy living in her father-in-law’s ranch. She thinks she has missed opportunities by marrying Curley and living with his band of lonely men. She tries to get a bit of companionship by flirting with them and talking to them.
Moreover, as she is the only woman on the ranch Steinbeck has portrayed as all women would have been seen in the 1930s American society – a sexual object. “Well, that glove’s fulla Vaseline. ” This shows the readers that Curley is only interested in his wife for the sex. “Well – she got the eye. ” This is showing the readers that she has accepted her role as an object of desirable sex. She has been brought into the stereotype that men have women. She could possibly be missing friendship as she is the only women on the ranch. Ultimately, we are invited by Steinbeck to believe that Curley’s Wife is a victim of society at that time.
This is because, eventually she is killed. “her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck. ” This shows she was as helpless as a fish; the use of the simile emphasizes the helplessness she possessed. Furthermore, it also shows how powerless she was as with her name, she and Candy’s dog echo each other, in the sense they both have no names; they are merely, a possession to be owned, an object. Before and after Curley’s Wife dies we begin to see another side of her, a side just longing for freedom, to be loved, to live the big American Dream.
“She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged checks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. The curls, tiny sausages, were spread on the hay behind her head, and her kips were parted. ” This shows the readers that all along Curley’s Wife was a natural beauty behind all the heavy make-up and redness. She has transformed into a beauty by death; she seems to have become an angel. Finally she has found what she has ultimately been looking for: peace and freedom away from her abusive husband and rash mother.
However, aside from all this, many people would still see her as not a victim. This is because, she is always described as dressed in red. “Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. A girl was standing there looking in. she had full rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers. ” Curley’s Wife is blocking the sunlight. This foreshadows her being involved in a crucial part of the novel.
It also forebodes bad happenings involving darkness. Furthermore, the repetition of ‘red’ shows she is devilished, lustful and seductive, it also has connotations of danger, foreshadowing danger in the near future involving her. In addition, ‘red’ i. e. ‘scarlet women’ indicated loose morals. Moreover, Curley’s Wife appears as though craving for attention. The make up and high heels seen very inappropriate for a ranch life even for a woman. Furthermore, Curley’s Wife uses sexuality to draw attention to herself. “She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward.
” This shows the readers she is a seductive woman who will do anything to get the attention of men. Steinbeck has again used Curley’s Wife to portray the way in which all women were portrayed as in 1930s America – an object of sexual desire. Moreover, it is also showing, that Curley’s Wife has fully taken on the stereotype of a women only being a sex object be doing so. It also suggests she is very promiscuous -she flirts and uses her sexuality and desirability to get want she wants or rather what she is not getting right now from Curley.
What is more, all the readers are fully aware of Lennie’s strength and childlike behaviour; however Curley’s Wife tries to impress him as he is the only one on the ranch that will talk to her. “She looked up at Lennie, and she made a small grand gesture with her arm to show that she could act. The fingers trailed after her leading wrist, and her little finger stuck out grandly from the rest. ” She tries to draw attention to herself by trying to impress Lennie as her is the only person on the ranch who will talk to her as everybody else is fully aware of what Curley is capable of doing.
She wants Lennie to notice her because she knows he is too dumb to say anything to Curley about her talking to other men. Furthermore, many readers would argue she was playing with fire by going after Lennie as he is so strong and powerful and this is backed up when she ironically gets killed by Lennie. To conclude, Curley’s Wife is seen by men as a strong, powerful woman who cannot be abused, however many would argue she was being sexually abused by Curley. At the same time, all the characters in Of Mice and Men are victims; they all have the big American Dream that never really takes place.
In my opinion, Curley’s Wife is both a victim and a culprit; this is because, towards the beginning of the novella, she is portrayed as a prostitute, danger to be around, however towards the end, we begin to see that all she has ever wanted is the big American Dream. As she is killed at the end, we again see how she is an innocent women longing for freedom and companionship from someone. ?? ?? ?? ?? – 1 – 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.