How Does Steinbeck Present the Character "Curleys Wife" in "Of Mice and Men"?

1992 Words8 Pages
Steinbeck presents the character of Curley’s wife in a complex and complicated manner. Steinbeck uses her as a literary device to show what it was like for a woman in 1920s America during the depression through Curley’s wife. Steinbeck uses Curley’s wife as a vehicle to show the gender prejudice and discrimination a woman had to face. He wanted people to change the way society thought of people such as women by showing that they are actually lonely and vulnerable even if they don’t seem it at first with the use of Curley’s wife and subtle methods as a symbol for women in that era. Steinbeck makes the reader conflicted on how they feel about her throughout the novel until and after her death. At the start of the novel our first impressions of Curley’s wife is shared with the other men on the ranch; in a negative way. The reader dislikes her as she is interpreted as being flirtatious, craving attention and provocative. Our first reference of her is at the start where the ranchmen talk about her. “Well I think Curley’s married…a tart.” Steinbeck used the word tart, as it is an undermining term to say that a woman is promiscuous at that time. Tart also means sour so he could be saying that she is a stingy person. The phrase “I think” shows that they do not know her and that they just assume she is like that without any actual proof. That links in with how people did not think about getting to know women and that they are something by labelling them from their actions and what they look like. Steinbeck saw that this was a double standard as a man could go to a “cat house” and “get it out of his system” and no one would think any different of the man, however if a woman did that they would be labelled as a “tart”. Steinbeck uses the colour red to describe Curley’s wife to represent danger or warning to the reader. “Rouged lip…Her fingernails were red…red mules…red
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