How Does Steinbeck Present Attitudes To Women In The Society In Which The Novel Is Set?

1472 words - 6 pages

John Steinbeck uses different methods to present Curley’s Wife and women in the 1930s. Throughout the novella Steinbeck represents women to be lower in society than men. In the novella women only have three different roles. A wife, an aunt and prostitutes. Steinbeck uses these roles to show the roles of women in society. Curley’s wife, Aunt Clara and Susy and Clara from the cathouse represent he microcosm of the women in American society.

The first woman that Steinbeck describes in the book is Lennie’s Aunt Clara. Aunt Clara is seen as a typical stereotype of women in 1930s America. She has a domestic house position which is what was expected of women. Aunt Clara is also mentioned in the ...view middle of the document...

Steinbeck also mentions the women at the cathouse to show women in a different way in society. Steinbeck introduces Susy and Clara from the cathouse. Whit describes Susy’s cathouse and brothel as ‘a nice place’ but her competition is Clara who also owns a cathouse. Susy has more authorial descriptions than that of Clara as she (Susy) is seen to be “crackin’ jokes all the time.” Steinbeck uses Susy and Clara from the cathouses to show that women in 1930s America were used as a form of entertainment for men who wanted to spend their money. Women were desperate and needed money and therefore tried to earn a living and some self-respect. The reason in which prostitution began was due to desperation. Women were also regarded also lower human beings with a less of a rank and status so doing these hobs were seen as ok by men. Many women in America needed to provide for their families as their husbands had either left them or provide little so women tried to find a way in which they could make income. Steinbeck shows Susy and Clara as the two who owned cathouses. He used two women to show that in America there was a lot of competition around. Susy and Clara also fit into the microcosm of the ranch and they are seen as working women with low statuses and so doing jobs that were done due to desperate need of money so they could also spend on things they wanted or needed. Steinbeck uses the word ‘crackin’ which shows that the women may have been breaking their reputations in dire need and desperation of money. As Susy gives the men entertainment by talking to them, this is what they want as on the ranch they are lonely and have no-one. At the cathouse they have people to talk to and it is as if they are given a bit of their freedom and their dream can slowly come true.

The main woman which is seen in ‘Of Mice and Men’ is the character of Curley’s wife. She has the main role of a character in the play but is still seen as someone with no identity as she has no name and is called ‘Curley’s wife’ throughout the novella she is seen to be the possession of Curley and is named as the woman who belongs to him. This shows how the treatment of women in 1930s America was very low as women were uncared for. With no name it is as if she is also trapped in the ranch and she has no escape as if she was to run away she would have no name at all. Also, with Steinbeck giving Curley’s wife no name it is as if she is being denied the importance and equality that men had. She is seen to be Curley’s possession and his possession only. The use of use of no name makes it seem as if she is his companion and she is there only for him and that she has no life apart from when she is with him. As the only woman on the ranch Steinbeck repeats the same line again but using the voice...

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