Why did Curley's Wife marry Curley?John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"

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hgarey71 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and MenCurley's wife is an important character because she drives the plot forward and is at the center of the climax of the novel. Despite her importance to the novel, readers learn very little about her. She is known only as "Curley's wife."

To find the answer to the question of why she marries Curley, readers must look in chapter five. Prior to that chapter, hints are dropped that Curley's wife may have a wandering eye. Some of the men call her a "tart" and say they've seen her sneaking glances at the men. Curley's wife finds Lennie alone in the barn, and she is lonely. She begins talking to Lennie, pouring out her heart. She explains that it was her dream to be an actress. She was even "discovered" by a man who worked in pictures, but her mother wouldn't allow it. Because her mother restricted her from pursuing her dream, she decided to escape from her any way she could. That is the reason she gives for why she married Curley. In the quote below, she is telling Lennie about the letter the man who worked in pictures promised her. 

"I never got that letter," she said. "I always thought my ol' lady stole it. Well, I wasn't gonna stay no place where I couldn't get nowhere or make something of myself, an' where they stole your letters, I ast her if she stole it, too, an' she says no. So I married Curley. Met him out to the Riverside Dance Palace that same night."

From this quote, readers can see she married Curley impulsively, out of spite for her mother and to escape from her mother's authority.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," little is known of Curley's wife other than the fact that she is from Salinas.  One evening when she enters the stables and Crooks's room, she talks to Lennie and Crooks.  She tells them that she had aspirations of becoming an actress; her hopes were dashed, however, when her mother forbade her to run off with a young man who was an actor.  From Salinas, a name that connotes loneliness, Curley's wife met him at a dance:

So I married Curley.  Met him out to the Riverside Dance Palace that same night.

At first she was impressed with Curley's physical prowess.  But, now, she is tired of his pugnacious way of talking about the next person he will beat or punch:

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

kmullen | Student

Curley's wife married him to get away from her mother whom she thinks has ruined her chance of becoming a famous Hollywood actress. Curley's wife met a man who was "in the shows" at the local dance palace. The man told Culey's wife he could get her on the show but her mother said no because she was too young. Later, Curley's wife met a man who said he was from Hollywood and could get her into pictures. The man said he would write when he returned to Hollywood. Since she never heard from the man, Curley's wife assumes her mother kept the letter. She confronted her mother, who denied keeping the letter from her. That same night Curley's wife met him at the dance palace and married him.

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Of Mice and Men

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