How does Steinbeck use Curley's Wife to portray the general view of people in Of Mice and Men? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Curley's wife's ability to dream is one way that Steinbeck uses her to communicate the general view of people in Of Mice and Men.  

Curley's wife is similar to many of the characters in Of Mice and Men because of her dreams.  She dreams of being in "pitchers."  She has visions of herself as a successful actress.  These dreams motivated her to leave home as she perceived her mother as unsupportive of her hopes.  In experiencing the joy in dreams, Steinbeck also shows how painful it is for dreams to remain unfulfilled.  Curley's wife enters into a rather loveless marriage with Curley and must wrestle with the reality that her dreams will never come true. When she pantomimes to Lennie an acting gesture with her wrist and hand, it is the last time she is able to fulfill her dreams.  Curley's wife lives with the pain that she is unable to see her dreams come true.  She portrays the general view of people who are unable to see their hopes materialize.

In this way, Curley's wife is no different than other characters in the novella. Crooks is similar to her in how he dreams of companionship.  Candy experiences the same pain she does when he realizes that he will not be able to accomplish his dream with George.  When George sees the dead body of Curley's wife, it is clear that his dreams will remain unfulfilled.  Steinbeck uses Curley's wife to convey an emptiness in existence when dreams die.