Of Mice and Men

Misunderstood Until the End: Curley's Wife in Of Mice and Men 9th Grade

One poignant example of the misperceptions that women face in a male-dominated society is presented in the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. The story takes place in the Dust Bowl era, when rough economic times made it hard to find work; two farmhands, George and Lennie, manage to take a job at a ranch. They meet many people at the farm, such as the boss’s son Curley, who is disliked by many - including, notably, his wife. Although she is seen by the other men as flirtatious and provocative, Steinbeck generates sympathy for Curley’s wife by presenting the men’s opinions on her, then revealing her true self through dialogue at the end of the novel, ultimately suggesting that the way others see her may not be how she truly is.

Although the men at the ranch don’t know her, they still have set preconceptions about Curley’s wife. They immediately judge her by the way she dresses, acts, and the fact that she is a woman- the only woman on the ranch, in fact. Throughout the novel, they call her a “tart” and “tramp”. When George and Lennie first arrive at the ranch, the old swamper Candy tells them about her: “She got the eye… I think Curley’s married a tart,” (28). Candy doesn’t really know her, and just uses her as a way to...

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