How does Steinbeck shape the reader's impression of Curley's Wife?
Monday 24th February 2014
Curley's wife is a complicated, main character in Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men". She is first introduced in chapter two and ultimately causes the end of the whole novel, her naivity and flirtatiousness lead to her inexorable death at the hands of Lennie, bewildered and scared by her forwardness and eventual panic.
Steinbeck first introduces her through Candy, the swamper, who describes her to George and Lennie from his frame of mind. The way that Curley's wife is introduced through the rumours going around the ranch means that the reader has a very biased view of Curley's wife before she has even entered the story. Candy tells George that she's "got they eye" meaning that she is flirtatious and slightly immoral. Steinbeck makes sure that we are told she flirts with other men immediately after Candy tells George and Lenny that she is married to Curley.
This means the readers are made to believe that Curley's wife is an unprincipled "tart" which is reinforced upon her first appearance.
Curley's wife is seen for the first time standing in the doorway of the bunkhouse, asking the men about the whereabouts of her husband, which the readers soon discover to be a feeble excuse to converse with the ranchers. Steinbeck describes her as wearing a "red cotton house dress" with a pair of mules that are decorated with "bouquets of red ostrich feathers" this is used to accentuate her sexual presence as the colour red, which is seen repeatedly whenever Steinbeck describes Curley's wife's clothing. Red is often associated with love, passion or one of the seven sins lust. Furthermore the "bouquets of red ostrich feathers" would have been incredibly extortionate in the time that...