Why does Curley's wife want to be an actress?

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Curley's wife wants to go to Hollywood and be in the movies because she dislikes her life on the ranch. As she says, if she were an actress, she "wouldn't be livin' like this." She confides in Lennie that she doesn't like Curley, saying he's not a nice guy.

Being in the pictures seems, to Curley's wife, to be everything her dull life on the ranch is not. She imagines wearing beautiful clothes and sitting in fine hotels, as well as being interviewed for radio.

Her interest in going into the movies was piqued when she met a man who took her to the Riverside Dance Palace. He said he was from Hollywood and that she was a natural actress. Although his words are all hot air, Curley's wife is too young and ignorant to know that. She doesn't realize how hard it is to break into Hollywood.

Basically, Curley's wife simply wants some sort of out that will allow her to escape from her current situation.

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Like just about everyone at the ranch, Curley's wife has dreams of escape. In her case, she wants to make it big in Hollywood. On the face of it, she seems to have at least some of the right credentials for the time, in that she's very attractive. But what really makes her think she could become a successful actress is what happened years before when she lived in Salinas. One day, a traveling show came through town, and one of the performers encouraged Curley's wife to run off with the show when they left. Curley's wife wanted to go, but her mother wouldn't let her. So, she's spent the intervening period brooding over what might have been. As she relates the story, it's clear that the dream is as real and as compelling as ever. Curley's wife is convinced that had she run off to join the traveling show, then she wouldn't have ended up living at the ranch, where she's perpetually mired in boredom and frustration.

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