What women appear or are referred to in the novella Of Mice and Men?

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Jessica Akcinar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The novella Of Mice and Men only contains a handful of women. Most of them are not depicted in a positive light.

First, the reader encounters the woman in the red dress. In chapter one, George mentions the fact that she is the reason they had to leave their last job. She had accused Lennie of attempting to rape her when he could not let go of her silky red dress. Although she really wasn't to blame, she is one of the reasons that George sees women as nothing but trouble.

The second woman we hear about is Lennie's aunt. Aunt Clara is probably the only woman in the novella who is depicted in a favorable light. George revered her enough to honor her dying wish that he take care of Lennie, and Lennie recalls that she did nice things for him, like give him dead mice and soft pieces of cloth.

Next, we meet Curley's wife. She is a young, pretty woman who flirts with the ranch hands because of her lonesomeness. The ranch hands notice her flirtatious demeanor and say, "Yeah? Married two weeks and got the eye?" (109). Although she has a significant role in the novella, we only know her as "Curley's wife", showing the reader that women were not seen as important to men. In fact, if anything, the men seem to see her as a nuisance and as trouble. For example, Crooks is irritated when she enters his room in the stable and states, "You gotta husban', you got no call foolin' aroun' with other guys, causin' trouble" (85). When she is ultimately killed by Lennie and discarded like trash under hay, Curley angrily blames her for ruining his chance to leave the ranch. Not even her husband shows her any love and respect as he is more concerned with killing Lennie than mourning her.

Finally, the last women we learn of are the prostitutes that the ranch hands like to visit. We learn that there are two whore houses available, and Whit states that "Clara gets three bucks a crack and thirty-five cents a shot, and she don't crack no jokes. But Susy's place is clean and she got nice chairs" (144). The men have no women of their own in their lives, and all they know is women who are available for their use. Even George whom we respect as a character states, "You give me a good whore house every time...A guy can go in an' get drunk and get ever'thing outa his system all at once, an' no messes" (185). Again, the men in Of Mice and Men seem to give women no importance.