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The question is ''how is the character of curleys wife portrayed in the novel''.
Steinbeck presents Curleys wife as a questionable,isolated and flirtatious character.
Curley's wife is constantly asking questions throughout the novel. For example, when she asked Crooks, Candy and Lennie, ''Any you boys seen curley?''. Most women are aware of their husbands whereabouts through the day, so to ask this question seems almost pointless. Steinbeck purposley uses curleys wife's questions to present her as a questionable character because she has several questions, yet the reader also has several questions about her. Many things about Curleys wife are a mystery, for example, her name itself. ''Curleys Wife'' implies that she is nothing buy curleys property and possesion. She has no identity. (Which was the case for most married women in the 30's, as men were seen as the hierarchy in the relationship.) We do not know her name or her age. Infact the only background information we know about Curleys wife is about her dream of being a moviestar, which could never come true as Lennie unintentionally ended her life before we could learn anything else about her. By doing this, Steinbeck is implying that failed dreams are inevitable in 1930's America. Curleys wife is the most questionable character in the novel because she is so mysterious. Ironically, her curioness leads her to being killed. Suggesting that the readers questions about Curleys Wife can never be answered. Steinbeck uses the character of Curleys wife to ask so many questions, to portray her mysterious and questionable character.
Alternitavely, Curleys wife's questions usually consist of asking for Curleys whereabouts. "Any you boys seen Curley?". This quote tells us she is roaming around the ranch asking the men where curley is. This suggests that she is infact avoiding him. She does not really want to know of Curleys whereabouts, because later in the novel, she confides in Lennie and tells him Curley ''aint a nice fella'', and who wants to be in the company, let alone married to somebody unfriendly?. We know that she is not trying to look for her husband because Slim says to her '' well you aint tryin very hard, I seen him in your house''. This quote proves that she infact does not want to go home to Curley, ( like a wife in the 1930's should) but she wants to make conversation, and even flirt with the ranchworkers. Curley does not give her enough attention or respect her, steinbeck uses her name to portray this. ''Curleys Wife'' implies that Curley owns her, so he treats her like his property. He makes it clear to all the men that he owns her, because when he is also searching for her, he reffers to her as ''My wife''. Implying that she belongs to him and the ranch hands should keep their hands off his property. Whereas the other men, such as Slim, who is know as ''the prince of the ranch'' and gains more respect than Curley, infact compliments her. "Hi Good- Lookin''. This informs the reader that she does get more attention from the ranch workers than her own husband, which is a clear reason why she avoids him by roaming around the ranch. Not only is she avoiding Curley, but gaining attention from other men, which portrays her as a flirtatious and seductive character, when really, she just wants the attention that any wife deserves.
Moreover, the lack of name for Curleys wife suggests her disconnection from the rest of the workers and the lack of respect for her. Even though Slim does compliment her, several other ranch hands show no regard for her, and even reffer to her as a ''tart'' and ''jailbait''. As nobody wants to befriend her, not only because she is the bosses property but because she she has no true identity.
Steinbeck presents her as a seductive character by introducing her into the novel wearing ''red mules'' and ''red ostrich feathers''. The colour red has several connotations such as seduction but also danger. Steinbeck is already foreshadowing that she is a character to be cautious of, and her seduction can lead to danger, which we soon discover to be true when she invites Lennie to stroke her hair but he then ends up killing her. Candy also explains that she ''got the eye'' suggesting that she is flirtatious and the ranch workers are aware of this, so they prefer to stay away from her. Again,leaving her isolated.
Curleys Wife reffers to the ranch workers as "boys", even though the oldest worker, Candy, is at a very old age. The word ''boys'' suggests that she see's the workers as children that she has power over. She gets authority over them, which is something she does not get when she is with Curley. Even though she admits she is ''awful lonely'' she does not help herself by opressing those whom appear to be weaker than herself.
Steinbeck uses the quote ''any you boys seen curley'' to portray the character of Curleys wife. She is a woman in the 1930's, meaning she is not allowed to work, so she is lonely. Her own husband does not care for her loneliness because he see's her as nothing more than his possesion, leading to her roaming around the ranch searching for the attention and affection she desires, but also so that she can avoid her husband. This eventually leads to her death. Steinbeck is foreshadowing that her constast desire for attention could lead her into trouble. The red colour of her clothes also suggest that she is infact not only just a lonely woman, but also a flirtatious character. The use of the word ''boys'' suggests that she feels the need to opress others who are lower than her, leading to her own isolation.
As a reader and a female, I do feel sympathy for Curleys wife as she is a woman in the 30's with no identity, she just craves the attention she deserves, which then makes her look like a flirtatious character.
Steinbeck uses Curleys wife's questions to portray her as a isolated, seductive and mysterious character.
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How is the character of Curleys Wife portrayed in the novel. watch
- Thread Starter
- 14-05-2015 19:29