There are 3 key themes in this novel, this includes the American dream to go to California to start their own farm and to eat of “the fatta the lan” meaning that the farm that they dreamed of would give everything they needed to live and another key theme is the desire for human connection as Curley’s wife is treated with no respect with everyone ignoring her but the last and most important theme is loneliness, Curley’s wife is a representation of all of the three key themes.
Curley’s wife was only married for about two weeks and in those days women were literally robbed of their identity when they get married and are just as if they are an object to their husbands, and since she has no name she is shaped trough the language as an inanimate object with no voice in anything she does and there is no mention of any other girl/women on the farm which shows her loneliness.
When Curley’s wife goes to Crooks’ room (a black guy who sorts out the horses), it is clear she is feeling frustrated, agitated and aware of the bad marriage between her and Curley. From the beginning we see she remains isolated and removed from the men as she was only “looking in” to the room. “looking in” keeps being repeated throughout the novel to show that she is an outsider as she doesn’t fit in with the men on the farm, a girl with a house dress on a farm with a lot of men getting all dirty, it just doesn’t work. Steinbeck also shows that she is lonely as she is stuck in a house all day bored and having to listen to her ignorant husband say “how Curley’s gonna lead with his left twice, and then bring in the ol’ right cross”, this shows she doesn’t get a voice and can’t share anything not even her feelings and emotions as there is no mention of any other female characters.
In addition to this, she is aware of her positioning as one of the “weak ones”. Steinbeck uses the words “weak ones” to show that even though Curley’s wife was married he still thought that Curley’s wife was weak and useless like Candy (old swamper), Lennie (simple minded and one of the main characters) and Crooks so even though they were married Curley didn’t care because about her as he goes to the whore house where he could get a drink and have sex with a “floozy”, so this displays that even though she is married to Curley she is still lonely and she also has the desire for human connection so she tries to find it with the “weak ones” (which are the lowest of the low) but gets rejected by them so she starts to have a go at them as she has been storing her anger up.
Steinbeck describes Curley’s wife as a stereotypical girl as she puts on a lot of make up to connote that Curley’s wife was bored, as women usually experiment with make up if they are bored; but she also does this because she thinks she will look like an “actress”, the American dream for girls were to get in a movie but she couldn’t as she has a “nestle brittle voice”. “Brittle” was used because this shows how she can be easily broken but can easily break others however this also shows that she couldn’t go into the movies as this era they just started using actual voices from the actors, Brittle also connotes that she is fragile and is can easily manipulate people.