Quotes About Curley's Wife

What are some indirect and direct quotes about Curley's wife from Of Mice and Men that describe her traits?

We learn a great deal about Curley's wife from her own words, as well as how she is described by others. She is not given her own name, which suggests she is Curley's possession. She is pretty, flirtatious, lonely, restless, and bored. She spends her days trying to attract the attention of the men on the ranch behind the back of her controlling husband.

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One of the first things we notice about Curley's wife in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is that she is not given a name of her own. She is simply referred to throughout the novel as "Curley's wife." By referring to in terms of her relationship to Curley, Steinbeck is emphasizing that she is to be viewed as one of Curley's possessions rather than as her own person. This demonstrates the strict control Curley maintains over his wife.

Our first insights into Curley's wife's character are given to us by Candy as he talks with George and Lennie. The old man tells them that she is "purty" and that after only two weeks of marriage, "She got the eye." He elaborates: "I seen her give Slim the eye … An' I seen her give Carlson the eye." From Candy's description of Curley's wife, we learn she is physically attractive, a newlywed, unhappy in her marriage, and flirtatious with the men on the ranch.

We are first introduced to Curley's wife when she asks a group of ranch workers if they have seen her husband. Steinbeck describes her face as "heavily made up." From this, we can infer she is concerned with her appearance and strives to look her best. She comments on how the men treat her differently when they are alone than they do when they are in pairs or groups, which suggests that she makes a habit of flirting with the men on the ranch. Crooks asks her to leave and says that the men do not want any trouble. She replies, "Well, I ain't giving you no trouble. Think I don't like to talk to somebody ever' once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time?" From this exchange, we learn she is restless, lonely, and tired of always being in the house.

Candy says Curley's wife "can move quiet" because she "had a lot of practice." His words suggest Curley's wife is quite experienced at being sneaky and getting around undetected, which once again hints at her flirtatious nature and possibly also suggests promiscuity.

Throughout the novel, there are many more direct and indirect quotations which further illustrate the aforementioned characteristics of Curley's wife. In short, she is physically attractive and strives to look her best; newly married, but unhappy in her marriage; flirtatious and insecure, as she is always seeking the attention of the men on the ranch; restless; bored; and lonely.

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Representative of the temptress, the Eve who ruins the halcyon environment of the Eden-like pond and surrounding greenery, Curley's wife is pathetically lonely after having had to abandon her dreams of being a movie-star--"I tell ya I could of went with shows."

Out of this loneliness, much like the loneliness of the bindle stiffs themselves, Curley's wife comes around the bunkhouse.  However, she holds a power that the men do not:  she poses as the temptress with

full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up.  Her fingernails were red.  Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages.  She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers. 'I'm looking for Curley,' she said.  Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality.

...She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward.

When George tells her that Curley has not been there, she flirts with him,

"If he ain't, I guess I better look some place else," she said playfully....She smiled archly and twitched her body.

After this, George expresses his assessment of her and tells Lennie,

"I seen 'em poison before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her.  You leave her be."

Curley's wife uses her power as the wife of the son of the boss to be cruel and to intimidate,

"I seen too many you guys.  If you had two bits in the worl', why you'd be in gettin' two shots of corn with it and suckin' the bottom of the glass.  I know you guys." 

When she asks Lennie about his bruises and Lennie just says that Curley had his hand caught in a machine, she laughs and says,

"O.K. Machine. I'll talk to you later. I like machines."

"I'm glad you bust up Curley a little bit.  He got it comin; to him.  Sometimes I'd like to bust him myself."

She later uses her sensuality to threaten Crooks,

"Listen, N--....You know what I could do to you if you open your trap?...I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny."

and to control Lennie,

She looked up at Lennie, and she made a small grand gesture with her arm and hand to show that she could act.  The fingers trailed after her leading wrist, and her little finger stuck out grandly from the rest.

Lennie sighed deeply....

...she ran her fingers over the top of her head.  "Some people got kinda coarse hair," she said complacently...."Feel right aroun' there an' see how soft it is."

An attractive woman whom Candy says "has the eye" and George calls "jail-bait," Curley's wife is seductive, cruel, and intimidating. Her behavior, born of her terrible aloneness, acts as the Eve in Steinbeck's world of men.  For, it is she who spoils the dream of George and Lennie, a dream first expressed in the peace of the Eden-like clearing with the pool. 

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