Curley’s Wife’s Significance in “Of Mice and Men”

11 November 2016

She would like to depend less on her husband, she has a fantasy of becoming a renowned actress and she feels secluded and miserable. She has to live in a male dominate society (“ranch ain’t no place for a girl”) and has to face the fact that she will never have all of the freedom she is hoping for. Her life is the exact opposite of this “dream”. Curley’s wife is considered to be useless, but as a character, she has a great importance: in fact, without her characters some events in the novel would have not taken place.

Examples of there are the crushing of Curley’s hand, her death and Lennie’s death. Curley’s wife is probably one of the most important characters in the novel. Steinbeck used her character to show the context in which the novel Of Mice And Men is set. However, she is treated unfairly by the men on the ranch, that only see her as trouble and tend to avoid her. Curley’s wife is extremely lonely, and she realizes this: “Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in a while? and “Standin’ here talkin’ to a bunch of bindle stiffs – a nigger an a dum dum and a lousy ol’ sheep – an’ likin’ it because they ain’t nobody else. ” She is isolated because she is the only woman on the ranch, and because of this Curley is possessive over her. She is not even important enough to be called by her own name: throughout the whole novel she is always referred to as “Curley’s wife”, as if she were Curley’s property and could not make decisions for herself. Curley doesn’t like her talking to other men on the ranch, and this means that she is supposed to be confined in her room.

Curley’s Wife’s Significance in “Of Mice and Men” Essay Example

Carlson says: “Why’n’t you tell her to stay the hell home where she belongs? ” and “You let her hang around bunk houses and pretty soon you’re gonna have som’pin on your hands and you won’t be able to do nothing about it. ” These quotes show that all of the men don’t want to see Curley’s wife, and that they think Curley should make sure that she stays home, so that she can’t cause any problems for them. This is the reason why Curley’s wife is always trying to attract the attention of the workers.

She does this by wearing red clothing and red nail polish, a color that stands out a lot and is a connotation of danger and lust. “She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown foreword”. This quote clearly shows how Curley’s wife is trying to show off her body, and that she enjoys the attention she gets. “She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. ” This is how she id described the first time she ever appears in the novel.

From this quote we can infer that she is trying very hard to look pretty and be a temptation for the men on the ranch, although she is not beautiful. She takes the time to take care of her hair, but the result is that it looks like sausages, which definitely isn’t a compliment. She is wearing lots of make-up, but her eyes are wide-spaced, a quality which isn’t exactly attractive. She is desperately in need of attention. One of the events which are influenced by her is the breaking of Curley’s hand. In fact, Curley was looking for, since she had just left their house to look for company.

Slim was annoyed at Curley because he was trying to scare him off unsuccessfully, then the other men on the ranch started to make fun of Curley, and he started a fight with Lennie although he wasn’t saying anything. Curley likes to show off his boxer skills, and he likes to pick on “big” people, because he feels small compared to them and wants to show that he is able to put up a fight with someone double his size. In fact, Curley says to Lennie “Come on, ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me. I’ll show ya who’s yella. Because he is trying to provoke him. Another very important event of the novel is Curley’s wife death. Lennie is blamed for having killed her, although she could have easily avoided this by not talking to Lennie. He speaks to him as if he were a baby, and, since he tells her that he likes to pet soft things, she asks him to touch her hair. “Feel right aroun’ there an’ see how soft it is. ” Lennie cannot stop, and when she orders him to leave her he holds on. Curley’s wife starts screaming and, to make her stop and not get into trouble with Curley, Lennie puts his hand on her mouth.

He doesn’t realize how strong he is, and he kills Curley’s wife by breaking her neck. “[…] her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck. ” The last event that was influenced by Curley’s wife is Lennie’s death. In fact, she was the cause of it. After having killed her, Lennie escaped to the pond, just like George had said. George looked for him and had to kill him, otherwise he would have been killed in a much more violent way by Curley or one of the other men on the ranch.

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Curley's Wife's Significance in "Of Mice and Men". (2016, Nov 22). Retrieved January 21, 2022, from
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