What is the wife of Curley's secret ambition from the novel "Of Mice and Men"?"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In John Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" the prevalent motif is the fraternity of men.  And, as the only woman in this novella, Curley's wife is presented as more of a threat to this fraternity than anything else.  The earlier allusion to a woman who got Lennie in trouble indicates, also, that women are the cause of conflict.

When Curley's wife comes around the ranch house, she is flirtatious.  The old swamper, Candy, tells George she is "purty," but

'Well--she got the eye....I seen her give Slim the eye...an' I seen her give Carlson the eye....Well, I think Curley's married...a tart.'

When she comes by the ranch house one day the men see

A girl standig there looking in.  She had 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....Her voice ha a nasal, brittle quality.

As she "smiled archly and twitcher her body," there is no doubt in George's mind that she intends to be noticed as an attractive and seductive woman.  George calls her "a tramp."  Later, when she talks to the men, she tells them she is lonely.  She also indicates that she enjoys the fact that Lennie hurt Curley's hand.  Angered that the men lie about what has happened, she says contemptuously,

Awright, cover 'im up if ya wanta.  Whatta I care?  ....Whatta ya think I am, a kid?  I tell ya I could of went with shows.  Not jus' one, neither.  An'a guy tol' me he could put me in pitchers...

Clearly, Curley's wife is a shallow woman who is attractive.  But, she met Curley in some roadhouse and left home shortyly after meeting him.  So, her only ambition was to leave her tedious little town and find romance.  Unfortunately, Curley has disappointed her.

kmullen | Student

Curley's wife's secret ambition is to be a famous Hollywood actress. Before marrying Curley she met a man at the local dance palace who told her he was in "the shows." Her mother refused to let her go because she was too young. Later, she meets a man who says he is a Hollywood actor and can get her into pictures. He says he will write to her when he gets back to Hollywood. She never hears from him and she thinks her mother has taken the letter and kept it from her. She confronts her mother who denies taking the letter. That same night she meets Curley at the dance palace and marries him, in effect, to get away from her mother.