In Of Mice and Men, what does Curley's wife say she might have done instead of marrying Curley?    

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Curley's wife, who is never given a real name, is merely a genitive of Curley with no real identity.  She comes around the bunkhouse because she feels almost nonexistent without doing so.  Even when she boasts of what she could have done if she had not married Curley, she describes how she has and could have been exploited by men.  For instance, she says,

"'Nother time I met a guy, an' he was in pitchers.  Went out to the Riverside dance Palace with him.  He says he was gonna put me in the movies. Says I was a natural. Soon's he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write to me about it."

At the same time that Curley's wife is exploited by men like Curley, she is also a temptress, "jail bait" as George calls her.  Like Eve, she lures Lennie to sin and disobey George's orders not to go near her when she brushes her hair and allows Lennie to pet it.

kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

In Chapter Five of Of Mice and Men, Curley's wife tells Lennie that she had once planned on becoming a Hollywood actress after going out with a man who worked in the "pitchers" and who said she was a "natural:"

"Soon's he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write to me about it."

That letter, however, never turned up (she blames her mother for stealing it) and so, instead, she married Curley, an action which set her life on a very different path.

This dream is significant because it demonstrates her dissatisfaction with life: instead of having "nice clothes," fame and a comfortable life, Curley's wife has ended up married to a man she does not like (she says he is not a "nice fella") and who is abusive towards her. Viewed from this perspective, she is no longer the "tramp" of the story but is a tragic figure who was never able to realize her dream. 


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