Saturday, September 14, 2019

How do you respond to the presentation of Curley’s wife in ‘Of Mice and Men’? Essay

Curley’s wife is presented as quite an ambiguous character. She is seen in two ways: in one way she is seen as `jail bait’, a `tart’ and `tramp’. In another way she is seen as a victim of a male society, the only female on the farm. Even as a main character in the novel, she remains nameless and only as `Curley’s wife’. This makes her sound like Curley’s property like Curley’s horse or clothes. This is also symbolic of the role of women at the time in which Of Mice and Men was set. Curley’s wife is seen as a very promiscuous woman, but that is only because of the picture you build in your mind from the description of her flirtatious attitudes. Before we even meet Curley’s wife she is degraded by Candy, the `old swamper’. He accuses her of having â€Å"the eye† even though she has been married two weeks: â€Å"You know what I think? †¦ I think Curleys married a tart.† Candy says this becaus e, Curley’s wife gives a few of the other workers â€Å"the eye.† or so he thinks. Curley’s wife enters the bunkhouse; she uses the excuse that she is looking for Curley. She does not seem to want to leave. George tells her that he was here earlier. She still does not leave though, â€Å"she put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward.† This demonstrates her flirtatious nature. Curley’s wife backs her story up by saying, â€Å"sometimes he’s in here† looking at her hands as she does so. She finally leaves when George again tells her that Curley isn’t there. â€Å"Nobody can’t blame a person for looking.† Curley’s wife says this almost to protect herself, as if to say, nobody can fault her if she is only looking for her husband. When thinking about or looking at what Curley’s wife is wearing, you would not associate it with every day life on a farm; she is out of place. Does this carry on throughout the story? Is she always out of place? â€Å"She had full rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled cluster s, like sausages. She wore cotton house dress and red mules. On the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers.† The constant reminder of red gives us two ideas: one, red being used as the colour of passion. Yet another sign of Curley’s wife’s flirtatious manner: two, red showing danger. All the signs of red could be a link to the red dress of the girl in Weed, where George and Lennie previously worked. Could there be a link? Curley’s wife recognises that her body and sexuality are her only weapons and she’s using them. In Steinbeck’s words â€Å"she had only one thing to sell and she knew it.† Curley’s wife is portrayed as this `tart’ and `jail bait’ not purely by accident. This portrayal is purely through the author’s actions. The mere fact that she is known only as Curley’s wife is a clear sign of her anonymity. She is given no name or in fact no identity. Is this hatred to women on Steinback’s part, or is he addressing the stereotyp ical attitudes towards women? Curley’s wife like everybody else has dreams. Curley’s wife’s dream is to be a star. Curley’s wife was asked to go on a show when she was younger, but her mother wouldn’t let her. Curley’s wife remembers a man in the â€Å"pitchers.† Said he’d write to her about becoming an actress and being in the movies. Curley’s wife says that her mother stole the letter when it came, to stop her from reaching her dream, when it really didn’t come at all. â€Å"Well I wasn’t gonna stay no place where I couldn’t get nowhere or make something of myself†¦ so I married Curley† this gives a strong impression that she married Curley purely out of spite, toward her mother. She goes on to say that â€Å"I don’ like Curley† this confirms the fact that she married him out of spite. Like the rest of the dreams in of Mice and Men hers so far has failed. â€Å"I coulda made somethin of myself†¦ maybe I will yet.† But Curley’s wife is still holding on to a faint glimmer of hope. This may explain Curley’s wife’s behaviour on the ranch; she may see it as a stage and the workers as her audience. In chapter four our attitudes towards Curley’s wife change dramatically throughout. In the beginning a feeling of sympathy and loneliness is aroused, because of her failed dreams and the way her husband treats her or rather doesn’t treat her â€Å"Think I don’t know where they all went?† Curley and the other ranch workers are spending their evening in a brothel. Toward the end a feeling of hatred or dislike is built up, beginning with her flirtatious manner to Lennie, ending with her racial abuse and threats towards Crooks: â€Å"I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even funny.† This is another sign of the society at that time. Curley’s wife mocks the dream of George, Lennie and Candy, saying that they almost had better things to spend their money on: â€Å"Baloney†¦ I seen too many you guys. If you had two cents in the worl’ why you’d be getting two shots of corn†¦ And sucking the bottom of the glass.† This is a clear sign, to the reader, of her naivetà ¯Ã‚ ¿Ã‚ ½. Here she is mocking others dreams, when not so long ago her dream shattered around her. Curley’s wife’s death can be looked upon in many different ways. From the way the other characters are seen to respond, it is as if they are the victims of the death and not her. The way in which the author describes the body is the opposite: â€Å"She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young.† This would suggest an innocent frame of mind, as if her death had transformed her. To someone or something better. Even though Curley’s wife is dead, she is still subject to blame. Candy is one of those who feel this way, talking to the lifeless body â€Å"You done it, di’n’t you? I s’pose you’re glad. Everybody knowed you’d mess things up. You wasn’t no good. You aint no good now, you lousy tart.† When the `guys’ find out about her death, I don’t think that Curley seems to realise that his wife is dead. He doesn’t stop to mourn at all, or hold her one last time, as any self-respecting man would do. He is only interested in one thing, revenge. In conclusion Curley’s wife is seen as an ambiguous character. Her moods and mannerisms change throughout the novel. She is presented, as somebody that no one likes not even her own husband. I think this is character is very misunderstood and if anyone was to take the time to get to know her a little better I’m sure Curley’s wife could be a very `nice’ person.

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