How did Curley's wife's dream of being an actress affect her in Of Mice and Men, and what change did it cause in her behavior?
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The theme of loneliness and isolation is pervasive in this novel. Curley's wife's dream of stardom exemplifies her feeling of separation. She desires to interact with the world and wants people to admire her beauty and talent. If she was a movie star then some of her loneliness would subside.
The fact that this dream will never come true due to her marriage to Curley and the grim life on the farm, makes her desperate for attention. Hungry for acknowledgement from anyone including individuals who are not her husband. This need for negative attention caused her to be alone with Lennie. Time alone with Lennie eventually results in her untimely death. She is a symbol of dreams lost and never realized.
Her dream of being an actress didn't really change her behavior. It was the thought that her dreams had been shattered that caused her to rush into marriage with Curley. Just before she met Curley, a man who said he was in the movies promised to write to her when he left. She never got a letter, probably because he was lying so he could take advantage of her. However, Curley's wife also blamed her mother for intercepting the letter. The entire experience embittered her so she was willing to run off with Curley to get away from her mother and also the memories of her shattered dream. Unfortunately, running away from your problems usually isn't the best course of action, as she found out.
Curley's wife has a different dream. She dreams of being a film star. She obviously hated the place where she grew up and when she was told she had the potential to be in movies she thought she could escape to Hollywood. However, she never got as far as Hollywood and ended up being trapped on the ranch with no one to talk to. Curley is not interested in her dream and the only person she finds to share it with is Lennie.
Some man put a lot of foolish notions in Curley's wife's head when he told her that she had the looks and talent to make it big in Hollywood. She is obviously very young. From what she tells Lennie about herself in the barn, it would appear that she is only about sixteen. The fact that she has dreams of actually being a movie star explains why she behaves in such a seductive manner around the ranch hands. She is practicing on them, trying to see what effects she can produce with her poses and her amateurish makeup. She is not interested in sex, not even with her husband. She is just playing games. This kind of behavior is often to be observed in young teenage girls. Curley himself has a big inferiority complex because of his small size. This would seem to explain why he would marry such a young girl. It also explains why he is a muscle-builder and a amateur boxer and why he is always picking fights.
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