Curley’s wife is the main women character in Steinbeck’s novel of mice and men. In this piece of writing I will be discussing the good and bad about Curley’s wife. Firstly Steinbeck uses colour to give a description on Curley’s wife. ‘She has rouged lips and red fingernails; her mules are red and are covered with red ostrich feathers’. The first opinion of her that comes to mind is that she is a dangerous women and she uses her sexuality to gain male attention.
The colour red suggests love and passion however as we find out later on in the novel she is not in love with Curley so her appearance is not to gain his attention, so who’s attention is she out to get? The way Steinbeck has described her intentions are to give the readers the impression of danger, she is out to cause trouble. However Steinbeck also tells us she is a ‘girl with sausage curls’ this suggests she is child like as she likes to wear bright colours and enjoys attention. Curley’s wife seems desperate for people to look at her hence the bright colours.
Red is the colour that shouts at people telling them to look in her direction. Although the men on the ranch are very tempted to look, they all look the other way as though she is not there. Curley’s wife is presented as a dark presence. ‘For the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. Steinbeck uses this quote to show the darkness she brings; she is like a dark rain cloud on a beautiful sunny day. In this case Steinbeck uses light imagery to show the audience how bad of a person she is. It tells the audience and the other characters how much darkness she could bring.
For example if the men on the ranch did flirt back with Curley’s wife then she could potentially get have them killed. Steinbeck presents Curley’s wife as a sneaky, manipulative whore like women. On a few occasions she is walking around the ranch looking for Curley knowing fine well exactly where he is. ‘I’m looking for Curley’. This suggests that she is lonely as she is the only women on the ranch and only has Curley to speak to but also she is bored and doesn’t like the company of her husband so goes around trying to get other men’s attention.
This is why she walks around the ranch supposedly “looking for Curley’ in order to gain the attention of other men. However because she is asking people where Curley is they may feel obliged to answer because she is not directly speaking to them. Therefore conversations could escalate without realising and she would have got her own way and gained the men’s attention. This is why I personally think Curley’s wife is manipulative. Curley’s wife is described as being threatening. In the scene where she entered crook’s room it is quite obvious that Crooks and Candy are very frightened.
Scowled down away from her eyes’ it’s like her eyes have lasers that would kill if you looked into them. This again could suggest that they both fear Curley’s wife or they do not think that they need to make eye contact as they have no reason to. The word ‘scowling’ suggests that Curley and crooks are really not happy about Curley’s wife being in the same room as them. After a while of Curley’s wife picking on crooks she bursts with anger because he is standing up for himself. Curley’s wife is not used to anybody standing up to her especially not crooks who is seen as nobody on the ranch.
She then goes on to say ‘I could get you strung up so easy’. Crooks has no choice but to back down because he knows that she is not joking and is quite capable of getting him ‘strung up’. On the other hand we get the picture that Curley is quite aggressive towards everyone on the ranch and seems to be a bully, so in this case Curley’s wife is only mirroring Curley’s behaviour. Also because Curley is the dominant one, whilst he is not around she is taking on the role to be the dominant one.
Throughout the whole novel Steinbeck does not give Curley’s wife a name, this suggests that she is just like a trophy to him. To all the men on the ranch and to the readers she is just known as ‘Curley’s wife’ so this could prevent anybody having a relationship with her, this could mean friends and even her husband. Even though she has no name she is still married to the boss and lives with him, this also could prevent her to have relationships with other workers because she is described as someone powerful who is capable of dark things.
She is not seen as someone important and that is why she knocks people down who are very low like herself. ‘They left all the weak ones here’ this could suggest that Curley has gone out and left all the weak ones on the ranch including herself although she wouldn’t think that herself. It could also suggest that she says things like that to make herself feel in charge and like she has a purpose rather than just being Curley’s wife. I think that she has no use on the ranch other than to be one of Curley’s trophies so she isn’t even worth a name so he does not give her one.
As the novel goes on we start to discover that Curley’s wife dreamt to be a movie star. I think she behaves the way she does because she knows that her dream is probably not going to happen. Curley’s wife has mentioned a few times ‘l coulda been in the movies. She was expecting a letter from a Hollywood producer but never turned up. The only excuse she could come up with to why the letter never came was that her auntie stole the letter so she wouldn’t move away.
This is why she married Curley to get back at her aunt not out of love for him. The way she dresses and acts on the ranch suggests she could possibly think she is a movie star. ‘She made a small grand gesture with her arm and hand to show that she could act. ‘ This shows that the ranch is not the right place for her and she is only there because she has nothing better to do and maybe she isn’t planning on staying. She may be hoping to save money and make a secret escape to go and for fill her dream.
Finally even though Steinbeck presents Curley’s wife as quite a complicated, self centred, flirtatious women I don’t personally think she has bad intentions. I think Steinbeck only told the readers the bad points about her. I agree that she is very flirtatious however she wasn’t actually looking for sex. She was just very lonely and bored, she just wanted somebody to speak to and thought that by wearing bright clothes and loads of makeup the men on the ranch would perhaps talk to her but she was wrong.