Essay written by Denoth, Ahsan, Nikita, Tariq and Vanisha.

Throughout the novel Steinbeck intelligently uses symbolism to portray the impact of different characters. This is clearly displayed through the use of the dark and light symbolism as the ‘sunshine in the doorway was out-off’ when Curley’s wife entered. The words ‘sunshine… cut off’ shows that she brought darkness to the room. This could signify that she brings problems to the ranch. It could also mean that the ‘sunshine’ which is their happiness without her is ;cut-off’ and decreased greatly with just her silhouette implying that the sheer fact that she is a woman between these men and are ignoring her and could cause lots of trouble. If we zoom in on the word ‘cut-off’ it could be foreshadowing the consequences of entering the bunkhouse which we later find to be the death of Curley’s wife. It symbolises the fact that Lennie and George’s ‘rectangle of sunshine’ which was their new job was ‘cut-off’ by Curley’s wife towards the end. It may cause reader’s to think that she represents the twist that may change or turn the story around. To a reader this represents something interesting that is going to change the men’s life.

One of Steinbeck’s method is imagery. This can be seen in the extract as her ‘body was thrown forward’. Steinbeck cleverly uses imagery as a language feature as this paints a clear image of Curley’s wife. Steinbeck cleverly uses the phrase ‘thrown’ to indicate to the reader about how women were ‘thrown’ in the society as it was a society of patriarchy where men were the dominant ones and women were the recessive ones. Alternatively, the phrase ‘thrown’ could suggest the woman’s relevance, as the only relevance is most of the times were for the women to stay indoors and take care of the family. This would make some readers feel disappointed, as women could do something in society. On the other hand, some readers may feel that this is right as women physically are unable to do what men do. Moreover, Steinbeck also uses the phrase ‘forward’ to possibly indicate that Curley’s wife wanted attention as she was the only female on the ranch. Similarly, the word ‘forward’ could also imply the American Dream and how it is related towards the men rather than the women, as they have a high relevance and were also higher than the women in terms of hierarchy.

Steinbeck uses of vivid vocabulary for the reader to imagine how Curley’s wife looked. He described her dress with having ‘little bouquets of red ostrich feathers’ which immediately gives us the impression of her being quite well-off at the ranch. Considering they were ‘ostrich feathers’ it must have been very expensive and especially how they were suffering from the Great Depression from when the book was set. The word ‘red’ is repeatedly used to describe her appearance. On the whole she is quite admired by the ranchmen so ‘red’ could connate to love. However,  another interpretation on the word ‘red’ is that she is a flashing warning for the ranchmen and is used as a device for foreshadowing later events with Curley’s wife. Steinbeck portrays a very ambiguous image of Curley’s wife but we definitely know she dressed very well.

One of Steinbeck’s method to present Curley’s wife is dialect. Steinbeck has deliberately made Curley’s wife speak informally in Of Mice and Men. Words such as ‘lookin’, ‘ain’t ya’ and ‘tryna’ are written in an informal way and we could interpret that the spelling of these words shows how much of a rebellious character Curley’s wife was. Alternatively, we could interpret that the spelling of these words show how uneducated Curley’s wife was and this foreshadows the silly decisions that Curley’s wife makes when letting Lennie feel her hair towards the end of the novel. The reader may find her dialect to be annoying purely because of the way that these words are pronounced.

Throughout the book Steinbeck represents men to be superior than women. When Curley’s wife leaves the bunk house George says ‘so that’s what Curley picks for a wife’. If we zoom in on the word ‘picks’ it tells us that men has more power of women as Curley had the power to ‘pick’ any girl he wanted and make her his wife. It seems as if she had no option as the word ‘pick’ is quite demanding. George is downgrading her as he is not saying it pleasantly because in the line before he calls her a ‘tramp’ which highlights the attitude the men had towards women. She was seen as a ‘tramp’ even though she was just asking a few questions.

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