Curley's wife is an interesting character. For one thing, she is never named; rather, she is known throughout the book as "Curley's wife." This clearly shows to what degree she is associated with her husband and has no persona of her own, as far as the other characters are concerned.
Steinbeck himself wrote that he intended Curley's wife to be a sympathetic character, a "nice girl," and not the tramp the other men assume her to be. She is undeniably lonely, making excuses to hang around the bunkhouse "looking for her husband." She desires companionship but gets nothing but scorn and derision from the men.
Like the other important characters in the story, Curley's wife is a victim of broken dreams. Her dream is to be a movie star, to earn some recognition for herself. Instead, she is reduced to dressing and acting inappropriately for her environs, and ultimately, dies at the hands of Lennie. Finally, in death, she is described as pure and beautiful.