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Why does Curley's wife tell Lennie about "the letter" and what does the...

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ericamcnut | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 22, 2008 at 6:15 AM via web

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Why does Curley's wife tell Lennie about "the letter" and what does the letter symbolize in "Of Mice and Men"?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 22, 2008 at 7:54 AM (Answer #1)

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Curley's wife tells Lennie that she once met a guy in the movie industry.  She went to a dance with him, and "he says he was gonna put me in the movies...says I was a natural".  This man said he would write to her about it "soon's he got back to Hollywood", but the promised letter never came.  Curley's wife suspects that her "ol' lady stole it", but her mother denied doing any such thing.  Curley's wife still lives with the regret brought on by the letter that never came - she says wistfully, "coulda been in the movies, an' had nice clothes...an' I coulda sat in them big hotels, an' had pitchers took of me...because this guy says I was a natural".

The letter is a symbol of a dream denied.  When she realized that the correspondence was never going to come, and that the life she wished for was never going to happen, Curley's wife married Curley, even though she "don' like Curley...he ain't a nice fella" (Chapter 5).

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fabulousnikki | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 22, 2008 at 9:01 AM (Answer #2)

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Curley's wife's dream of being a movie star is parallel to George and Lennie's dream of having a place of their own someday.  The theme of American Dreams runs all through the novella, and different characters express their dreams at different times.  We know from the text that Curley's wife's dream is a dream denied, but we have to read further and finish the novella to see if George and Lennie's dream will be denied.

To say more, George and Lennie want a place of their own, literally, in that they would like to have their own house and farm.  But symbolically, the pair longs for a place in society.  They are tired of the nomadic lifestyle, etc., etc.

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