Essay written by Yuvraj, Lipesan, Nirav, Rikesh, Pritesh and Rethush.

In the novel Of Mice and Men, author John Steinbeck uses many methods to present Curley’s wife and the attitudes other men at the ranch have towards her.

First of all, Steinbeck’s use of imagery in Of Mice and Men foreshadows the end of the novella. This can be seen when Curley’s wife walks in and the ‘Sunshine in the doorway was cut off’. One interpretation of this quote could be that the light symbolises the friendship between George and Lennie when Curley’s wife cuts the ‘light’ out it foreshadows the end of the novella with George ending the ‘light’ with a bullet. An alternative view could be that when Curley’s wife walks in, she actually does block the sunlight coming in. This could show how she brings darkness in the ranch as she goes around and tries to flirt with everyone but they do not want her. This results in Lennie showing his dark side as he murders her in cold blood.

Steinbeck’s use of colour in the description of Curley’s wife foreshadows the upcoming bloody situation that will appear later on in the novel. Evidence to show this is his repetitive use of the word ‘red’, in her description. This could prove she might somehow be involved in bloody situation or has been involved. Her red nails could show that her hands have been stained with blood as she may have committed murder. ‘Red’, could also show the ‘love’ that she is trying to get from the men.

In the ¬¬extract, Steinbeck cleverly employs colloquialism to depict Curley’s Wife’s character. When she enters the bunk house, she sighs “Oh!” when she finds out that her husband Curley is not amongst the other men on the ranch. At a glance, the word “Oh!” could suggest that she is genuinely surprised by Curley’s absence and she cannot do much without him, representing women’s status in society at the time – useless without men. However, upon close inspection, this can be seen as an overreaction and instead is just an excuse in order to talk to the other men, possibly because she does not like her husband due to her lack of freedom in the relationship because of her status in society. Furthermore, the use of the exclamation mark could actually communicate that she is feeling annoyed that her husband is nowhere to be found, which gives us the impression that she is shouting and beaming. Some readers may feel disgusted that Curley’s Wife is seducing other men whilst being a part of a marriage, and not committing herself to her husband, Curley. Alternatively, other readers may feel sympathetic towards her due to the fact that he can be seen as misunderstood and is just a lonely woman who wants someone to talk to, which may foreshadow what she will do in the rest of the novella.

Steinbeck’s clever indication of each character helps the reader understand each character. Steinbeck present Curley’s wife as “playful” this suggest that she is a flirtatious character and she likes to play with other men however it can also mean that she is bored as she is the only girl on the ranch and she wants to have some “playful” time for herself. The word play is cleverly used by Steinbeck as it has more than one meaning to it, at first to the reader it gives a bad impression of Curley’s wife which leads them to think she is a tramp but on the other hand, it can also mean that she is segregated from everyone as she is the only women on the whole ranch and as modern reader we can feel sympathy for her and understand that she is just being “playful” to get attention so she has someone to talk to.

Finally, in the novella Steinbeck cleverly uses the words “Hi good – lookin” to convey the fact that Slim is being a gentleman and complementing Curley’s wife. However the use of these words could also convey how people would speak at that time and this can clearly be seen when we zoom into the text and notice that the spelling of looking is different and it is spelt “lookin”. The readers have now been made aware that the spelling is in colloquial which suggests that all people who live on the barn speak in this particular way. Alternatively, Steinbeck’s use of the words “good – lookin” could also make the reader aware that all members of the barn are not calling Curley’s wife by her REAL name because at this time in America, women were treated as property and objects, hence Curley’s wife is known as many words in the novella, such as “good – lookin”, “tramp” or simply Curley’s wife but she is not known by her real name. This shows a hierarchy, and in that hierarchy women are seen as objects hence they are at the bottom of the hierarchy alongside black people such as Crooks and disabled people such as Candy.

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