How are women "dangerous" in Of Mice and Men?

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John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Menwomen are "dangerous" because they distract men from their purposes and act as temptresses who cause conflict.

It is interesting that in Steinbeck's narrative there is only one female, other than the mention of the girl in Weed who was the...

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John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Menwomen are "dangerous" because they distract men from their purposes and act as temptresses who cause conflict.

It is interesting that in Steinbeck's narrative there is only one female, other than the mention of the girl in Weed who was the reason for George and Lennie's having to leave a job and "the working girls" in town, who George says take men's money from them. This single female has no name, only the genitive of her husband: "Curley's wife." Trouble brews around her before she is even seen as her jealous husband has "ants in his pants" because he is worried about what she does when he is not with her.

For Steinbeck, in the fraternity of men, a communion which would allow them to have strength and unity, women are Eves, temptresses who disrupt this fraternity. The first time Curley's wife appears. She stands in the doorway of the bunkhouse, leaning against the doorway so that her body is thrown forward in a provocative pose. When Lennie watches her in fascination, she "smiled archly and twitched her body." After she leaves, George scolds Lennie, telling him to stay away from Curley's wife because she is "jail bait."

Further in the narrative, when George is away in town with the other men, Lennie wanders into the barn to find his puppy, but he also meets Crooks, the black stable mate. Then, old Candy comes in, also. When Candy mentions the plans that George, Lennie, and he have for a place of their own, Crooks, who has been so marginalized that he is made to live in the barn, asks if he could join in with them. Afterwards, there is a sense of camaraderie and fraternity is established among them. However, they are soon interrupted by Curley's wife, who even notices the strength men have together:

"Funny thing," she said. "If I catch any one man, and he's alone, I get along fine with him. But just let two of the guys get together an' you won't talk. Just nothing but mad." She dropped her fingers and put her hands on her hips. "You're all scared of each other, that's what. Ever'one of you's scared the rest is goin' to get something on you."

When Crooks tries to get her to leave, she refuses. Then, Candy starts talking, telling her about the plans he and others have, ending by saying they are not worried about being fired because they have their own land "and it's ours, an' we c'n go to it." Hearing this, Curley's wife laughs and ridicules their idea, saying she knows their type and they never save any money. In another effort to be rid of her, Candy tells her that Curley will not like his wife in the barn with such bindle stiffs as he, Lennie, and Crooks. Curley's wife turns on them, especially Crooks, whom she threatens with having "strung up on a tree." But, she leaves and goes to another part of the barn. Unfortunately, Lennie comes upon her and she talks with him, then she lets him pet her hair. But, when the Herculean Lennie holds it too tightly, she complains. Frightened, Lennie tries to keep her from screaming and inadvertently breaks her neck.

With the death of Curley's wife, comes the death of the dream of Lennie and George. Candy stands over her, hating her for having destroyed their plans for a little farm of their own. He curses her:

"You God damn tramp," he said viciously. "You done it, di'n't you? I s'pose you're you're glad. ever'body knowed you'd mess things up. You wasn't no good. You ain't no good now, you lousy tart....I could of hoed in the garden and washed dishes for them guys."

After this, Lennie has to hide and George feels he must shoot Lennie to prevent him from being shot or hanged. Their dream is ruined because of this dangerous woman.

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