Of Mice and Men

Mice and Men question

Look carefully at the passage describing Curley’s wife. Pick four separate aspects of the description, and try to explain the impression Steinbeck is trying to create. What might be there despite the obvious ‘tartiness’ that he is trying to convey?

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Curley's wife is 'heavily made up' the first time we see her in the novel. As she lives on a ranch, this is a little out of place. Then we learn that she has red fingernails and red shoes adorned with red ostrich fethers. She is deliberately seeking attention, and her choice of colour indicates teh passion and danger that is associated with her. She adopts the pose of the vamp:

'...her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward.'

There is, however, a sad desparation about her as well as the obvious 'tartiness'. She is searching for someone to talk to, and she wants to catch the attention of someone - anyone. She is not happy in her marriage to Curley even though only two weeeks have elapsed. She is the only woman on teh ranch, and the only way she knows how to get the attention of men is to flirt with them. She is quite a tragic character.


'Of Mice and Men' - John Steinbeck