How is Curley's Wife regarded as a tragic figure?- With a few quotes please.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Curley's wife does not really become a tragic figure until Chapter 5, in which she meets her death. Before that she seems immoral, dangerous, vain, self-centered, reckless, and heartless. She makes a very bad impression in the scene in which she threatens to have poor Crooks lynched and thoroughly terrifies and humiliates the man. But Steinbeck wanted his reader to understand that the she was, after all, just a young girl who was unhappily married to an abusive man and deprived of the hopes and dreams she had built to escape from the reality of her existence. She is tragic because she deserved a better fate, not unlike a lot of Steinbeck's characters in his novels and short stories.

In the chapter in which she confides some of her secrets to Lennie, she tells him:

"Coulda been in the movies, an' had nice clothes--all them nice clothes like they wear. An' I coulda sat in them big hotels, an' had pitchers took of me. When they had them previews i coulda went to them, an' spoke in the radio, an' it wouldn'ta cost me a cent because I was in the pitcher. an' all them nice clothes like they wear. Because this guy says I was a natural."

Only a few pages later she is struggling for her life. "And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck."

Steinbeck makes the reader pity the poor girl with his moving description of her dead body.

Curley's wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. The curls, tiny little suasages, were spread on the hay behind her head, and her lips were parted.

Candy is the first to find her. Then George comes into the barn because Candy had asked him to meet him there. Ironically, Candy wanted to discuss their plans to buy a farm together. The reader shares their reaction to the sight of the dead girl which Steinbeck has described at length. Both George and Candy say the same words: "Oh, Jesus Christ!" This is not profanity but a sincere expression of the emotion Aristotle described as pity and terror.

plzmn | Student

she is always on her own and has no female connections therefore she acts out to all the men this is why she is called "jail bait" and is regarded as a tragic figure.

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Of Mice and Men

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