Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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How is Curley's wife treated with disrespect in Of Mice and Men?

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The first indication that Curley’s wife is treated with disrespect is that she is never given a name. She is simply known as “Curley’s wife.” The contempt with which the ranch hands view her is due to the fact that she is desperately seeking attention, perhaps companionship at some level. Curley seems to be inadequate. They never seem to be in the same room at the same time. Throughout the novel they are constantly seeking each other. Yet Curley does not trust her around men, perhaps with good reason. The ranch hands view her as a “tramp,” seeking to be unfaithful to Curley. She tells Candy and Lennie that she wanted to be an actress, but her mother thought she was too young. Since then, she has been looking for her identity. Perhaps she does not want what the men think she wants. Yet they view her as trouble looking for an opportunity. When she comes around, they almost immediately push her aside to get rid of her. She is the only female in the novel in a masculine environment. The men may not be so much misogynists as self-defensive. They view women only as sexual objects (such as the prostitutes in the brothel in town), and thus Curley’s wife fits in that category. There is no attempt to reveal her as a fully developed character, worthy of respect or even understanding.

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