Steinbeck's novel 'Of Mice and Men' explores the everyday lives of migrant workers during the Great Depression. In this era, American men were forced to leave their families and become 'drifters'. These were people who didn't have a fixed job and continually moved from place to place.
'Of Mice and Men' is based around two main themes; loneliness, and the fragility of dreams. Each main character connects with both of these themes at some stage throughout the novel. Curley's wife is no exception to this. At the beginning of the novel the reader views her as an unpleasant, naive and troublesome character. However, as the novel progresses, the reader is gradually exposed to another side of Curley's wife, one that suggests she is merely a woman that is lonely and dissatisfied with her life.
The reader is first introduced to Curley's wife through Candy, when George and Lennie first come to the ranch. Despite ...view middle of the document...
This means that even before the reader meets Curley's wife, they have already been influenced by another character's opinion.
Shortly after this, Steinbeck introduces Curley's wife to the reader. It is clear from her first appearance that she is a dangerous, flirtatious and provocative character. Her language reflects this, she calls "Stable-Buck. Oh! Sta-able Buck". Implying that she is flirting with Crooks, the black stable buck, a character that she considers weaker than herself. Steinbeck uses hyphens to make Curley's wife's language seem playful and flirtatious. However, when she notices George and Lennie, Curley's wife claims she is "lookin' for Curley". Inferring she is cautious and reserved towards George and Lennie.
The colour red is also used a lot to describe Curley's wife. Steinbeck describes her as having "rouged lips", "red mules" and "red ostrich feathers". Suggesting red is a colour that is associated with Curley's wife, and that she signifies danger. Adding to this, during Curley's wife's conversation with George and Lennie, "Lennie's eyes moved up and down her body". This immediately alerts the reader that Curley's wife is dangerous. As previously George and Lennie had to run from their last job in Weed, due to Lennie's attraction to petting soft things. After this conversation, George calls her "jailbait" and a "rattrap", he knows that she is dangerous, and warns Lennie to keep out of her way. It is evident from these points that Curley's wife is a dangerous and provocative character, and one that should be avoided.
Generally, during the course of the novel, women are viewed negatively. They are seen as objects, not real people. For example, throughout the novel, Curley's wife is merely known as 'Curley's wife'. She is never called by her real name. The term 'Curley's wife' implies she is owned by Curley, and not a person with freedom. From this, the reader can tell that Curley's wife lives in an unfair World, in an era of inequality. This suggests Steinbeck wrote 'Of Mice and Men' in a time when women weren't considered equal.