In John Steinbeck’s novella ‘Of Mice and Men’ (hereafter OMM) Steinbeck tackles many issues faced by people in the 1930s. As the 1930s were difficult times for most people it is a perfect setting to reveal the true characters of people.
The issue of sexism was very present in the 1930s compared to how it is now. Steinbeck’s use of the character of Curley’s Wife is the only female character in the novella. Steinbeck uses different methods to diminish the importance of Curley’s wife.
Steinbeck never gives Curley’s Wife a name. This is done to show that she does not have any identity or position on the ranch. As Curley’s Wife is a representation of all women in the 1930s I feel Steinbeck uses her to show that she does not have any identity or position on the ranch. As Curley’s Wife is a representation of all women in the 1930s I feel Steinbeck uses her to show that most women back then had no identity or position in the working world.
Steinbeck uses methods of introduction to show the reader the hardships of women in the 1930s. Steinbeck never introduces Curley’s Wife throughout the novella. I feel Steinbeck does this to show that although to the reader she is an important character, she is insignificant in the 1930s society. However Curley’s wife upon meeting George and Lennie never introduces herself. This shows that the character herself feels insignificant in society. She feels that she is unwanted and no one cares for her so no one would need to know her name. Curely’s Wife is also only introduced to other people as “Curley’s Wife”, I think that Steinbeck does this to show that Curley, her husband, is in possession of her, like so many other women in 1930 in other situations.
No characters in the novella care for Curley’s Wife and very little attention is given to her. However many of the men only see her as an object. I think Steinbeck conveys that idea by his description of her. When we and George and Lennie are first introduced to her, Steinbeck takes a long time to describe her. ‘She had full rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her finger nails were red. Her hair hung in little clusters, like sausages…’ This I feel Steinbeck uses to present Curley’s Wife as an object to the men and society. It is to show that Curley’s wife is worth as much as she is wearing.
But Steinbeck doesn’t only use the description of what she is wearing, he also fully describes her actions. This is to show the physical awareness the men have towards