Sandra Beatty. "Steinbeck's Play-Women: A Study of the Female Presence

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Sandra Beatty. "Steinbeck's Play-Women: A Study of the Female Presence in 'Of Mice and Men." CLC, Vol. 47: pages 361 - 362.

In Sandra Beatty's criticism, the role of a female as portrayed in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is discussed. Beatty begins by stating the importance of Curley's wife in the drama as a whole. She addresses that it is Curley's wife who infact decides on whether or not George and Lennie meet their dream of owning land considering she is influential in determining their fate. Not only that, but according to Beatty, Curley's wife also serves as a reinforcement for Steinbeck's theme of loneliness; as well as the idea of a personal dream and isolation. Beatty suggests that Curley's wife's pain was often overlooked. "Loneliness and the land are both personified in George and Lennie..[Curley's wife] is portrayed as equally lonely and commands equal measure of our sympathy because she had a dream that was never realized," (316).

Beatty also states that unlike initially perceived, Curley's wife does have a major influence on the story. By not giving Curley's wife a name, suggests Beatty, Steinbeck deliberately delineates her role to the extend the male characters perceive her. Beatty addresses the fact that unlike the males on the ranch, Curley's wife has no where to turn to vent feelings of frustration and loneliness. When Curley's wife does attemp to do so, though, she is only turned away and misinterpreted by the others. Curley's wife eventually confides in Lennie during what Beatty considers the most moving scene of the book. "For the first time, we are allowed to get close to two characters who have always been overshadowed by others and who have been afraid to speak openly because of the threat of consequences," (362). Beatty believes that it is ironic how once Lennie's passions are understood and Curley's wife's loneliness is demonstrated, both simultaneously lose their dreams.