In Of Mice and Men, what is Candy's opinion of Curley's wife? What may be a reason for this? Give evidence. Also what is your impression of Curley's wife? What passages in the story lead you to this impression?

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Candy tells George that Curley, the boss's son, married only a few weeks ago. Candy describes Curley's wife as a "tart," or woman of easy sexual morals. Candy says she is good looking and likes to flirt with other men on the farm. Candy states that she has given the "eye" to two of the ranch hands, Slim and Carlson.

As readers, our first "face-to-face" look at Curley's wife seems to confirm what Candy says. Curley's wife shows up at the bunkhouse wearing red lipstick, heavy eye makeup, and red sandals with open backs (mules). She seems to thrust her body out at the men as if to show it off. George calls her a "tramp" or prostitute.

But another look at the novel suggests to us that Curley's wife is more sympathetic than first appearances indicate. We learn for example that she feels lonely and isolated on the ranch. She says to Crooks and Candy:

Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time?

She also complains that Curley does nothing but brag about who he is going to beat up. She later tells Lennie that she is sorry she married Curley, because he is not a nice guy. She dreams of escape, just as George and Lennie do, though in her case she wants to become an actress:

"Nother time I met a guy, an’ he was in pitchers. Went out to the Riverside Dance Palace with him. He says he was gonna put me in the movies."

But like George and Lennie, she will not achieve her dream. We can feel sympathy for her as a teenage bride in over her head in a situation on the ranch she doesn't know how to navigate.

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In chapter two of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Candy tells George and Lennie about Curly's wife.

The first thing he tells them is that she has made Curley even cockier than he was before he got married:

Seems like Curley is cockier'n ever since he got married.  (30)

Candy also tells them that she's "Purty," but more importantly, that she's "got the eye."  She likes to look at other men.  Candy says he's seen her look at Slim, for instance, and Carlson, too. 

Candy sums up his comments about Curly's wife by concluding:

Well, I think Curley's married....a tart.  (31)

Candy thinks Curley's wife likes to flirt and fool around with other men when Curley's not looking.

This may well be true, of course, but there is more to her than what Candy sees.  She is an uneducated, foolish woman trapped in a man's world.  She dreams of being a movie star, of being famous, of being somebody.  And she is not on her way to reaching any of those goals. 

She is a misfit, too, much like Lennie and Crooks.

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