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Race And Gender Roles In Of Mice And Men

1836 words - 7 pages

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How would you feel if you were never called by your real name? What if you were treated like property, or couldn't talk to anyone? This was how women were treated in the 1930's and how Curley's Wife was treated in the John Steinbeck novel Of Mice And Men. Throughout the entire book and the movie, Curley's Wife is never called by any other name except "Curley's Wife" She-like many other characters in the book-were treated very unfairly, to the point of extreme neglect. They were held back from reaching their dreams, and their full potential. This is called oppression.

I feel as though in Of Mice And Men the conditions that Curley's Wife endures are very stereotypical to it's time period. In one movie scene Curley's Wife yells out to Curley "You don't own me Curley!" To which he replies "Shut up and get back in the house." Curley never treats his wife with the respect that most modern women receive. She is often lonely, and desperate for the company that she rarely receives. She constantly roams the property looking for some kind of support, or anyone to talk to and is also consistently denied the right to converse with anyone. She tells Lennie about how she dreamed of being a movie star and visiting foreign countries but now since she is married to Curley she never even gets to go into town because of her social status as "property" to the inferior males to of her time. She said that once she married Curley she knew that he would never let her leave him to fulfill a dream of being famous because for most women, marriage was something permanent. Compared to women in the modern day, all of her privileges are extremely restricted. Even some of the worker men refuse to talk to her, stating that she was a "tart" and that she would get them into trouble with Curley or the boss if they said something one bit out of line. Through all this hatred put towards the only female character in the book, she is never able to realize her full potential which could have quite possibly been waiting around the corner. She could have been the greatest actress of her time but due to her status in society, and the traces of oppression in the story, she is held back by Curley. She is the most oppressed character in the story because of mans' lack of respect for the female population during this era.

Another character in the book that was extremely oppressed was the stable buck- Crooks. Crooks is the only African American character in the book, and therefore-like Curley's Wife-didn't really have anyone to talk to. Crooks varies from Curley's Wife though that at least some people are nice to him and talk to him. During a brief conversation with Lennie he states "You got no right to come in my room.....You go on get outa my room. I ain't wanted in the bunkhouse and you ain't wanted in my room." (Steinbeck, 72) Though Crooks has to...

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