Of Mice and Men: Curley’s Better half: Innocent Lady or Floozy?Curley’s Other half:
Floozy or Innocent Woman? Curley’s wife is a young, quite female, who is mistrusted by her hubby, Curley. The other characters refer to her only as ‘Curley’s wife,’ which is significant as she is the only character in the novel without a name. She is a simple object or ownership belonging to her partner and this shows the seriousness of the sexual discrimination in America in 1930s. I think Steinbeck would have thought of her not as a person however a symbol. Almost everybody on the cattle ranch is lonely and she symbolises this. The audience would pertain to believe she is a weak separated character nevertheless, the guys are afraid of her.
She is the spouse of their employer. She has power and this power creates worry among the cattle ranch employees. She is both in charge and yelling for attention. When we first meet Curley’s spouse, the description of her suggests she is plainly overdressed for life on a cattle ranch. ‘Her fingernails were red’ and she wore ‘red mules, on the insteps of which were little arrangements of red ostrich plumes.’ The repetition of the red recommends danger. This might be an alerting about trouble in the future. Risk produces fear and the employees on the ranch absolutely fear her.
She has the power to dismiss them from their tasks and even have them lynched as she is in charge’s partner. This ‘Miss Dynamite’ image is supported by the reality that George believes she will be trouble. He calls her a ‘tramp’, ‘poison’ and informs Lennie (who has taken a shine to her) to ‘leave her be’. He sees her as a danger and doesn’t want Lennie to get involved with somebody who could possibly lose them their tasks. The audience starts to dislike this female. This highlights the bias versus females at the time. She discovers as a positive flirt when in company due to her body movement. The first description of her includes ‘. o that her body was thrown forward’. This gesture recommends that she almost throws herself at guys. George called her a ‘tramp’ and her actions are starting to satisfy this viewpoint of her. I believe some would see this as frustrating. Ladies were generally seen in whore houses at the time. The truth that Curley’s spouse had actually discovered herself a spouse, survived on a cattle ranch and not in a whore home, suggests she is a ‘excellent girl’. We desire her to be different from the general view of women at the time which had actually been brought about by prejudice. Unfortunately she discovers as no different. This continues in chapter 5, when Curley’s partner consoles Lennie. She moved more detailed’ is duplicated showing how she continually lowers the distance in between herself and Lennie. It recommends she is forward and flaunting herself at him. The audience might begin to feel unpleasant and nervous at this point. This might be the minute of danger that was foreshadowed in the beginning. She appears to be the powerful Miss Dynamite. However, there are a lot of implications that she is a lonesome victim. After she is eliminated there is a poignant moment in the book. The long sentences stress the motion of peace, time standing still before the males find her body.
All the negative elements of the character disappear and we feel sympathy for her. She tries to convey glamour and elegance when really she is simply a sweet nation woman. Steinbeck explains her as ‘really quite’, ‘basic’ and ‘sweet’ when dead. The audience now understand the simplicity of her real self. ‘… the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face’ reveals that she is at peace. She doesn’t have to pretend anymore. She has been putting on an act. She had a dream which we just become conscious of in this chapter to become a film star in Hollywood.
One theme in the book is the American dream. Lennie and George have one. However, it is suggested that this is inaccessible as George talks of them owning ‘red and blue and green rabbits’ which provides the American dream a dream quality. The fact that Curley’s spouse still appears to think in her dream gives her a naivety and we feel more compassion for her and the audience warm to her. I think this is the point in the book (when Steinbeck reveals her true character) that the audience can look back over the book and consider her differently, as the lonely victim.
For instance, she is constantly searching for her partner which might be an excuse to join the other males. ‘I’m looking for Curley’ could have a surprise significance and she could be desperate for some attention if she is lonely. The loneliness of her character is supported by the scene with Lennie in Chapter 5. She tells Lennie the about herself and her dream. She is so desperate to talk to someone and for somebody to listen. ‘. her words toppled out in a passion of communication’ shows how desperate she is to share her story.
This desperation continues when ‘she happened with her story rapidly, prior to she might be disrupted.’ This could be seen as her being conceited. On the other hand, she might just be overwhelmed that somebody is in fact listening to her so she wishes to say everything before it ends up being too good to be true and Lennie loses interest. This indicates she has no one to talk with which is saddening as it shows how isolated she should be. This isolation is stressed further when she can’t even connect with Lennie. The a single person who she starts to befriend ends up being too good to be real. Don’t you think of nothing but bunnies?’ shows that Lennie isn’t actually listening. They lose what was a potentially gorgeous connection. In conclusion, Curley’s better half imagine being Miss Dynamite but is truly just the lonely victim. Her dream was to be a movie star in Hollywood however she discovers herself living on a ranch. Among her strengths is her status in society as the boss’s better half but apart from this she seems to be the lonely victim through and through even though she attempts to cover it up with her ‘glam’ image. She conceals behind a mask and the audience just understand when she dies.