Please Mark- Explore the way Steinbeck presents curlery's wife in of mice and menWatch
‘Explore the ways Steinbeck presents Curley’s Wife in Of Mice and Men.’
In the novella, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck presents the character of Curley’s Wife in a variety of different ways, including his use of light and atmosphere. He manipulates the reader throughout the novel into both condemning and sympathising with her by using contrasting personalities of other key characters. It is only in the last few scenes of her life does her highly fluctuating fate come to a close and the readers draw their conclusions on the young and opinionated but resourceful Curley’s Wife.
Curley’s wife never has her name published in ‘Of Mice and Men’ and throughout the novel, is always referred to as a possession of her husband. She is only otherwise addressed as a ‘looloo’ and a ‘tart’, which Steinbeck uses to acknowledge the corrupting power of female sexuality in the 1930s. Perhaps as a device to get the reader to sympathise with her character and to get them to empathise with the subject of female sexuality, especially in the prejudiced society she lives in. It can also be depicted as foreshadowing the importance of women in the 1930s; subsequently creating this initial secondhand description of Curley’s wife of causing sympathy towards the young girl in a male dominated world. It also encourages the reader to form the disadvantage and hard of life opinion on her - especially comparing her with the only other character without a name in the book, who is Candy’s old ‘drag-footed… moth eaten coat… with pale, blind old eyes’ dog, which later dies. By doing so, predicts her tragic death and consequently the downfall and death of one of the protagonist duo characters, Lennie, suggesting within the context of the book that you can never change your path in life.
When the reader first meets Curley’s wife, it is obvious that she wants to be seen and stand out particularly in the way she dresses and presents herself. Much of her outfit is ‘red’ she has ‘full rouged lips’ ‘her fingernails were red’ and her hair hung in ‘little rolled clusters, like sausages’. Steinbeck uses repetition in the colour red throughout her entrance when meeting the protagonist duo, George and Lennie for a number of potential reasons. Perhaps a reason for this is to emphasise her femininity, as she is the only woman on the ranch, and by Curly, she is not allowed to speak to any of the other ranch men. She frequently feels isolated at the ranch, which is where the origin of sympathy introduces itself with her character and as a result Steinbeck obtains the colour red when describing her because it is often used when recognizing beauty and dignity, but Steinbeck perhaps uses it to suggest danger as red can be additionally used to characterize blood and hatred. This is foreshadowed later in her fateful death involving the main character Lennie because of his tragic love of the colour red. This fundamental first physical description of Curley’s Wife warns the reader to be wary of her and that she is not to be trusted as she is capable of causing danger to the much loved protagonists Lennie and George. It also encourages the reader to perhaps form a critical opinion of her- especially combining with the fact that when she enters ‘the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway’ is ‘cut off’ by her figure, creating warning from the use of light and dark, with light signaling happiness and the sudden darkness to signify the antithesis of it, where the opinion of condemn side of Curley’s Wife suddenly appears in the novel.
While you're waiting for an answer, did you know we have 300,000 study resources that could answer your question in TSR's Learn together section?
We have everything from Teacher Marked Essays to Mindmaps and Quizzes to help you with your work. Take a look around.
If you're stuck on how to get started, try creating some resources. It's free to do and can help breakdown tough topics into manageable chunks. Get creating now.
Not sure what all of this is about? Head here to find out more.