How does Curley's wife belittle the workers in Of Mice and Men?

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Curley's wife belittles the workers in Of Mice and Men by calling them "bindle bums" and "bindle stiffs" in chapter 4. She also refers to the three workers as the "weak ones" and makes disparaging comments about their dream of owning an estate. In addition to calling them unflattering names and criticizing their goals, Curley's wife also questions their masculinity and issues a serious threat directed at Crooks.

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Curley's wife belittles several of the workers in chapter 4 when she enters Crooks's room uninvited and attempts to have a conversation with the lowly men. In chapter 4, the majority of the workers head into town, leaving Lennie, Crooks, and Candy behind on the farm. After George leaves the farm, Lennie ends up wandering into Crooks's private room, which is attached to the barn.

Shortly after Lennie enters Crooks's room, Candy arrives and Crooks listens as Candy and Lennie elaborate on their dream of one day owning an estate together. Initially, Crooks thinks Candy, Lennie, and George are hopeless and will never achieve their goal. However, Crooks's opinion changes once Candy explains that they already have the money.

Suddenly, Curley's wife enters Crooks's room looking for her husband. When Candy responds that Curley isn't around, Curley's wife belittles the three men by saying, "They left all the weak ones here" (38). When Curley's wife senses that she is unwelcome, she once again belittles the men by questioning their masculinity and claiming they are scared of each other. Curley's wife then asks what really happened to Curley's hand, and Candy tells her a lie to cover for Lennie. Curley's wife recognizes the men will never tell her the truth and proceeds to call them "bindle bums." Curley's wife continues to disparage the three men by saying,
Sat'iday night. Ever'body out doin' som'pin'. Ever'body! An' what am I doin'? Standin' here talkin' to a bunch of bindle stiffs—a n***** an' a dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep—an' likin' it because they ain't nobody else (38).
Curley's wife also criticizes the men for their dream and believes their goal is impossible to achieve, which infuriates Candy. Finally, Candy and Crooks defend themselves, and Curley's wife responds by threatening to have Crooks hanged. After several tense moments, Curley's wife thanks Lennie for beating up her husband and quietly leaves Crooks's room.
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How is Curley's wife disadvantaged in Of Mice and Men?

Many of Steinbeck’s characters in the novel Of Mice and Men are disadvantaged in some way or another. Lennie is mentally retarded, Crooks has a curved spine, and Candy has lost a hand. Curley’s wife, on the other hand is disadvantaged in a different sense.

Gullibility is her most obvious disadvantage. She was duped into marrying Curley and moving to the ranch, apparently unaware of what an unfulfilling life that would be for her. As she speaks to Lennie late in the novel, relating her dissatisfaction with her marriage, she tells him a story from her past about how she had been misled by another man, who claimed to be able to make her a movie star. Although the book doesn’t explicitly state that Curley’s wife had a physical relationship with this man, the implication is that she was fooled into doing just that.

Curley’s wife also suffers from a hatefully racist attitude toward the black stablehand Crooks. When Crooks dares to stand up to her, she calls him the N-word and threatens to have him lynched.

So, while Curley’s wife is fine physically (even beautiful and desirable), she is disadvantaged because she is a weak-willed character with a mean streak towards those over whom she has power.


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How does Steinbeck show the good and bad in Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men?

This is a good question.  It is always important to look at two sides of a person. For Curley's wife's good qualities, we can say that she had dreams.  This is an important point to bear in mind, because in Steinbeck's world, very few people have dreams.  They do not have the courage to have dreams, because dreams are shattered.  In a conversation with Lennie, she says:

“Well, I ain’t told this to nobody before. Maybe I oughten to. I don’ like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella.” And because she had confided in him, she moved closer to Lennie and sat beside him. “Coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes—all them nice clothes like they wear.

This dream makes her more human.  The reader is drawn in and feels compassion for her. 

When it comes to her bad qualities, there are a few.  First, she knows that she is attractive.  She uses it to flirt with the other men.  This is a bad thing to do, because she is married to the boss's son.  This means that she can get the men in trouble, but she does not care.  Second, in a telling episode, she puts Crooks down.  She even threatens him with death. She says:

“Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung upon a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.”

In short, she knows how to use her power to manipulate men.  

Curley's wife is a complex combination of good and bad.



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How is prejudice shown in the scene between Curley's wife, Candy, and Crooks in Of Mice and Men?

This is a fairly powerful scene where the poison of disenfranchisement and alienation comes out in the interactions between the three characters.  On one hand, the men hold prejudice towards Curley's wife.  They see her as primarily a sexual vamp, someone who is incapable of any reflection or rumination.  They see her as someone who abuses her power because of her "womanly ways."  At the same time, they are convinced that she uses her sexuality as a weapon.  The men do not really seek to understand or to show her due respect in being a person capable of complexity.  From her end, Curley's wife looks at the men as typical "losers," poor and destitute who are incapable of deserving her respect.  She believes that Curley is old and worthless.  Yet, most of her prejudicial venom is saved for Crooks.  She threatens lynching, indicating that the men would believe her over him because of his skin color, a social condition that would relegate his voice onto the margins.  The exchange between the three of them is based on how each of them views the other with prejudice.  In constructing their dialogue in this manner, Steinbeck raises significant question as to how people act, calling attention for the need to change such interaction between people.

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How does Steinbeck demonstrate that Curley's wife is prejudiced in Of Mice and Men?

Steinbeck shows Curley's wife's prejudice during the time she visits Crook's room to talk to Candy and Lennie. Crooks, who is Black, asks Curley's wife to leave his room. She angrily replies that he has no right to ask her to leave because she could easily have him lynched. Candy retorts that no one would believe her but Crooks, knowing she is right, quickly backs off. It is Candy, who is white, who finally gets her to leave by telling her the other ranch hands have returned to the ranch.

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How does Steinbeck present Curley's wife as a disadvantaged character in the novel Of Mice and Men?

Curley's Wife is trapped.  She is locked into a rural social structure of the 1930s California farm life, and by the common stereotypes and social views of women and their role at that time.  She is certainly portrayed as disadvantaged for her choice of husbands, as Curley is both abusive and unloving. 

Steinbeck also takes care to portray her as a character who is consumed by loneliness and hopelessness.  She has dreams--going to Hollywood to "be in the movies"--which will never come true.  She wants things as simple as someone to talk to, but has a husband with a personality that is half anger and half jealousy.  She is just one of several sympathetic characters in this novel.

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How does Steinbeck shape our views of Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men?

Curley's wife is presented in a mostly unfavourable light and it is interesting that she is never named; it is as though she has no real identity. Like others in the novel Curley's wife has a dream and that too will never be realised. She thinks that she 'Coulda been in the movies, an had nice clothes' which we know is just a fantasy.

One of the ways in which she is portrayed very harshly is in her dealings with Crooks. She tells him that 'I could get you strung up on  tree so easy' which highlights her bad character as she knows that Crooks has no power as a black man.

Curley's wife as often a lonely figure, stranded on a ranch with only her husband, whom she dislikes, for company. She dresses up to hang about on a farm and is seen by the men as trouble.            

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