What is an example of indirect characterization for Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A good example of indirect characterization for Curley's wife is found in the conversation between George and a minor character called Whit.

George dealt and Whit picked up his cards and examined them. "Seen the new kid yet?" he asked.

"What kid?" George asked.

"Why, Curley''s new wife."

"Yeah, I seen her."

'Well, ain't she a looloo?"

"I ain't seen that much of her," said George.

Whit laid down his cards impressively. "Well, stick around an' keep your eyes open. You'll see plenty. She ain't concealin' nothing. I never seen nobody like her. She got the eye goin' all the time on everybody. I bet she even gives the stable buck the eye. I don't know what the hell she wants."

Most of the men have the wrong impression of Curley's wife. They think she is promiscuous and unfaithful to her husband Curley. Whit's description shows she is very young. He calls her a kid. Although Whit may not give a true picture of Curley's wife's character, he does give a good impression of the way she behaves. She is always being flirtatious with the men. She dresses in ways that could be considered provocative. It is because she is an inexperienced "kid" that she is creating the wrong impression among the men, including George, who warns Lennie to stay away from her because she is "jailbait," because she is trouble.

Curley's wife also characterizes herself indirectly as having a cruel streak when she frightens Crooks in his room by suggesting that she could have him lynched just by telling the other men that Crooks molested her. She characterizes herself indirectly when she is revealing her dreams of Hollywood stardom to Lennie in the barn, shortly before he accidentally kills her. She is a dumb, totally inexperienced high-school dropout with her head full of illusions from watching movies and reading movie magazines. 

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