How does Steinbeck use figurative language to present Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men?

Expert Answers
noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Curley's wife (she is never given a name in the work) brings about the downfall of George Milton's friend Lennie Small. Steinbeck does not spend a lot of time describing her, but the brief descriptions he does give tell us just sort of woman she is.

Early in the novel, she is described as having "the eye", which indicates that she is sexually attracted to other men, even though she is married to Curley. George describes her as "a tart", a slang term which also suggests that she is sexually tempting, and declares that "She's a jail bait all set on the trigger", another figurative expression that indicates that she is woman who is both sexually charged and dangerous to any man with whom she might become involved.


Readers of the work should also note the way that Steinbeck makes her speak. Consider the following example: "All the guys got a horseshoe tenement goin' on. It's on'y about four o'clock." Such language reveals that she is not much more sophisticated linguistically than the men who work on the farm.