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Reflective of the most lonesome of eras in the history of the United States, the Great Depression, John Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Men is populated with characters who are misfits of terrible aloneness. Certainly, as the only female character in the narrative, Curley's wife is separate, or isolated, from the other characters. And, that she, also, is lonely is apparent from her actions and speech.
Ironically, Curley's wife's use of her sexuality to entice the men is the very quality which so gravely alienates her from the men. Upon seeing the girl with
...full,rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up, [and] red fingernails....
George declares her "jail bait" and a danger, instructing Lennie to never speak to her or go near here, reminding Lennie of someone from their past who has spent time in jail because of a woman such as Curley's wife. The others avoid her because she is the wife of the boss's son; they can more easily go to "Susy's place" in town where for "Two an' a half" they can have their desires satisfied without worrying about the husband or their jobs. Curley's wife's lack of a name in Steinbeck's work indicates that she is perceived only as a woman who is a temptress, an Eve of sorts.
In another ironic twist, Curley's wife has married Curley because she was lonely in her own small town; however, as the only woman on the ranch miles from anywhere, she is yet lonely. Pretending that she is merely tired of Curley, she tells the men:
Think I'm gonna stay in that two-by-four house and listen how Curley's gonna lead with his left twict [sic], and then bring in the ol'right cross?....
"Awright,, cover'im up if ya wanta. Whatta I care? You bindle bums think you're so damn good. Whatta ya think I am, a kid? I tell ya I could of went with shows. Not jus' one, neither. An' a guy tol' me he could put me in pitchers...."
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