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Curly's wife is first mentioned in relation to Curly, as Candy mentions Curly's attitude has worsened since his marriage. Cany then goes on to say "she got the eye", before describing her at the end before he leaves the bunkerhouse as a "tart". Later, when she comes into the bunkerhouse looking for Curyly, she talks "playfully" then smiled "archly". So, from this first introduction to her, she is depicted as a flirt, a tease and someone who wants attention from other males. Of course, as the novel develops, Steinbeck paints a picture of a woman who, whilst obviously having her own faults, is desperately lonely just like other characters. Who had her own dreams that have never materialised and is discontented with her lot.
In chapter two of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Candy specifically tells George and Lennie about Curly's wife.
The first thing he tells them is that she has made Curley even cockier than he was before he got married:
Seems like Curley is cockier'n ever since he got married. (30)
Candy also tells them that she's "Purty," but more importantly, that she's "got the eye." She likes to look at other men. Candy says he's seen her look at Slim, for instance, and Carlson, too.
Candy sums up his comments about Curly's wife by concluding:
Well, I think Curley's married....a tart. (31)
Candy thinks Curley's wife likes to flirt and fool around with other men when Curley's not looking.
This may well be true, of course, but there is more to her than what Candy sees. She is an uneducated, foolish woman trapped in a man's world. She dreams of being a movie star, of being famous, of being somebody. And she is not on her way to reaching any of those goals.
She is a misfit, too, much like Lennie and Crooks.
She is definitely portrayed as a tease. I would use Candy's description of her as pretty but flirtatious. I would also indicate the dact that Curly wears a vaseline filled glove to jeep his hands soft for her - she is his possession but she also controls him. I would also use the passage when she is described, when she first enters the room, as wearing a dress that reveals her legs and red lipstick and nail polish. All of these traits are characteristic of clothing and cosmetics that might be warn by a prostitute - someone who leads men on and, In this case, represents a threat ion that, as George yells at Lenny, she is forbidden fruit. The men are not allowed to touch and they know that even looking is probably a bad idea. She is dangerous!
From this chapter, we definitely get the idea that Curley's wife is trouble. We get the idea that she is at least something of a tease. We get the idea that she wants the men to look at her, knowing that they cannot have her.
I would use the part in the story where she comes looking for Curley and ends up talking to George and Lennie for a bit. I would especially use the part where she "twitched" her body and where she tells George that you can't blame someone for looking. That implies it's okay for them to look at her.
Perhaps Steinbeck uses a little bit too much foreshadowing in "Of Mice and Men." When we first see Curley's wife in the doorway, we not only sense that she is going to cause trouble, but we even anticipate that that trouble will involve Lennie, because he thinks she is pretty and he likes to pet pretty things. We are also made thoroughly aware that he doesn't know his own strength and that he and George nearly got lynched in Weed because Lennie had made a pretty girl think he was trying to rape her. We have also been informed that Curley is a jealous, possessive, violent man, and we can expect him to have a confrontation with Lennie. Steinbeck is a realist, but all his foreshadowing is not quite realistic. It is almost melodramatic. In the early chapters we may start thinking that practically everything is foreshadowing something that will happen later, including the shooting of Candy's old dog. There is something a little awkward about the way some of the characters introduce themselves. Curley pops in for no particular reason. His wife appears in the doorway for no particular reason. The story reads almost like a play--and it was Steinbeck's intention to turn it into a play, as is explained in the Introduction in the eNotes Study Guide (see reference link below).
In chapter two, we see Curley's wife exactly as George describes her. She is a tart and she is trouble.
Curley's wife seems only to want attention (sexual attention) and is willing to put other people at risk to gain that attention. For this reason, she is dangerous.
George recognizes her right away for what she is - trouble. She is lonely, a little bitter about her life situation and choices, and she is looking for companionship and maybe even "companionship". The fact that Steinbeck doesn't even give her a name other than "Curley's Wife" emphasizes what a tragic figure she is.
In Chapter 2, George recognizes Curley's wife as one of a type. He cautions Lennie,
'Don't you even take a look at that bitch. I don't cae what she says and what she does. I seen'em poison before, but I never see no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be.'
Obviously, this statement of George's reinforces the Eve motif in this novella in which men cannot get along if there is a woman in the group. As such, it foreshadows the problems to come.
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