In Of Mice and Men,
1. How does the author develop George and Curley's wife as good or bad (please use citations and quotes that demonstrates a use of a particular technique--alliteration, metaphor,simile, etc.)
2, How does this development tie into to overall mood which Steinbeck wants to create?
3. Has the way we view George and Curley's wife changed during the narrative?
- Curley's wife
A flat character who undergoes no development or change, Curley's wife is less a person than a genitive of Curley. With no name given her, Curley's wife is a stock character: The Temptress, an Eve. (2) With her red lips, red nails, and seductive stance in the doorways of the bunkhouse and barns, she stands literally and figuratively in the way of the men's development of fraternity, a condition that the Socialist Steinbeck felt was the remedy to men's alienation and disenfranchisement.
George immediately identifies the danger attached to this very attractive female who is the sole woman on the ranch. After he realizes that Lennie has instinctively been drawn to this woman who has thrown her body forward in the door frame before them, George warns Lennie,
"Listen to me....Don't you even take a look at that bitch [negative metaphor for woman]. I don't care what she says and what she does. I seen 'em poison metaphor for the vamp, seductress] before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait [metaphor] worse than her. You leave her be."
(2) George knows that an attractive woman can cause fights and resentments among men--even killings. He is also aware of the danger to Lennie, who has already been easily seduced in Weed, and he wants no more trouble or for them to lose their jobs again.
But, in her loneliness [Loneliness and Alienation are themes], Curley's wife takes advantage of Lennie's diminished mental capacity and she lures him into giving her attention. But, when he pets her too strongly, she becomes frightened and starts to scream. Merely trying to get her to be quiet, Lennie inadvertently breaks her neck. killing her, and she is symbolically victimized just as Candy's old dog who was killed. [The devaluation of human lives--another theme--also occurred during the Great Depression.]
- George Milton
A round character, small George Milton at first seems to be a rather abrupt and uncaring person, but it is really his circumstances that have made him brusque and selfish. At times, Lennie is a burden because of his child-like mind and his unthinking actions, causing them both to lose their jobs. Unhappy that they are mere bindle-stiffs and distrustful of others since he is in competition for work with all the other displaced men of the Depression, George shields his real feelings in order to protect himself. His anger at Lennie about the man's request for ketchup on his beans as they camp in the clearing outside Soledad is really George's frustration over their social condition of having no friends and no security. He recites the dream of owning a farm, not because he believes it, but for the sake of his friend Lennie, who childish heart does not comprehend the factual realities.
That George loves Lennie is evinced in his refusal to let the cruel Whitson and others track him down and kill him or take him so that Lennie will go to prison. George shoots Lennie in a mercy killing; he cannot picture Lennie locked up, hopelessly alone and innocent of any malevolent intentions.
That George is really humane is revealed when he relates an incident to Slim in which gave up teasing the gullible Lennie, who is "jus' like a kid." [simile]
"Tell you what made me stop that. One day a bunch of guys was standin around up on the Sacrmento River. I was feelin' pretty smart. I turns to Lennie..., 'Jump in.' An' he jumps. Couldn't swim a stroke. He damn near drowned before we could get him. An' he was so damn nice to me for pullin' him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in...."
Further, he and Slim discuss the aloneness of bindle stiffs and agree that being so alienated makes a man mean. "They get wantin' to fight all the time."