Curlers wife is a character in the novel “Of mice and men” set in California and written in 1937 by John Steinbeck. She is the only woman on a ranch of itinerant working men, and because of this she gets treated by each man in a different manner. Most of the men treat her in a negative way, therefore causing different degrees of sympathy from the reader. Sympathy implies that the reader feels an emotional connection towards the character. Her unhappy marriage to the boss’s son causes her great loneliness and unhappiness as she tries, in vain, to find someone to talk to on the ranch.
The reader may feel certain degrees of sympathy for Curleys wife due to the fact that the ranch workers are always talking behind her back. This is shown when Candy is talking about her to George and Lennie in the bunkhouse when they arrive. He states that he thinks “Curleys married… a tart”. This quotation could cause very strong feelings against Curlers wife, as she seems to have a reputation amongst the men for being flirtatious. The noun “tart” might infer that Curleys wife is a promiscuous character who flirts with all of the ranch workers.
It could also imply that she is lways tarted up’ and making an effort to look attractive in front of the men. Candy’s opinion seems harsh, which could portray the ranch worker’s extremely negative feelings towards Curlers wife, as they assume she is a flirtatious attention seeker. However, the reader may feel sympathetic towards Curlers wife because she is labelled as a “tart” and so the ranch workers don’t look past her appearance to get to know her personality.
In this quotation, Candy pauses before completing the phrase, which could suggest that he is apprehensive towards voicing his opinion about Curleys wife. This would be understandable, as most of the ranch workers seem intimidated by Curley and insulting his wife may result in a fght or losing their Job. Some might think that this quotation reveals that Curlers wife is incredibly lonely, as the ranch workers are prejudiced against her from the minute they get to the ranch, so this implies that it must be hard for her to make friends.
She is the only woman on the ranch and seems to have trouble fitting in. She may be seen as very glamorous and sne could like to get dressed up tor tun, as it would make ner teel like a movie star, which is her dream. Overall, I think this quotation causes a high level of sympathy from the reader towards Curleys wife, because the ranch workers Judge her and don’t try to get to know her personality. The Judgement as to whether Curlers wife is malicious or kind lies with the reader’s perception of her character’s description and actions in the novella.
When Curlers wife first appears in the novel in the bunkhouse scene, the reader is presented with an in-depth description of her appearance with multiple references to the colour red. This is expressed through quotations like “she had full rouged lips” and “her fingernails were painted red”. These declarative phrases could imply that she is an evil temptress who is not to be trusted and attracts lots of attention, which could be either wanted or unwanted on her part. Contrary to this, the colour “red” is a passionate, loving colour which could present her as a kind, affectionate character.
The adjective “red” is however sometimes associated with the devil and malice, which links to the bible, as evil was introduced into the world when Eve was tempted by the snake, so by dressing in red Curleys wife could be presenting herself as a temptation to the male ranch workers throughout the novella. Also, Curleys wife has some aspects of her personality that imply softness, for example “little bouquets of red ostrich feathers”. These “feathers” are a significant part of Curleys wife’s appearance, because the reader knows of Lennie’s fascination and admiration of soft objects.
This feature of her appearance could portray a more attractive personality because the “ostrich feathers” create a gentle, toned-down persona for her character, which may cause a higher level of sympathy from the reader because the ranch workers treat her as if she is repulsive and manipulative, which could be a prejudice based on her appearance. Towards the end of her initial introduction, Curleys wife addresses George “playfully, with could portray her as an intentionally promiscuous character. She is known around the ranch for teasing the male ranch workers and being apparently disloyal to Curley.
The adjective “playfully’ could cause the reader to feel unsympathetic towards Curleys wife, because she may give the men false hope by flirting and acting in a promiscuous way when she is around them. On the other hand, Curleys wife flirting could be interpreted as unintentional, harmless conversations and friendships between her and the ranchworkers. This would be understandable ecause as she mentions later in the novella in Crooks’ room, she gets “awful lonely on the ranch. Curleys wife is seen by everyone on the ranch as a sexual object, due to her makeup and clothes.
Whenever she tries to interact with any of the workers, they assume she is flirting and spread rumours about her, however she may Just be a lonely woman on a ranch full of men. Curley regards her as an item that he possesses ownership over, and so he is always looking for her to make sure she isn’t with any of the other men. This shows that Curley doesn’t trust his wife, and so their relationship and marriage isn’t a happy one. In chapter tour, the ranch workers go out to a brothel in the local town, leaving Lennie, Crooks, Candy and Curlers wife at the ranch.
In Crooks’ room, where the men are talking, Curleys wife comes in and states that “They left all the weak ones here”, which shows the hierarchy of the ranch and highlights the fact that nobody wants to be with the “weak ones” at the bottom of the hierarchy. The reader may feel highly unsympathetic towards Curlers wife because she says cruel, cutting things when she can. She says that “they left all the weak ones here”, but it isn’t clear whether she is including herself in that group or not. If she meant to include herself, the reader may feel sympathetic towards her because she feels that she is a weak person at the bottom of the hierarchy.
This reflects the way she is treated by the male population on the ranch because she is constantly put down and distrusted when she Just wants to make friends. On the other hand, if she was leaving herself out of “the weak ones” group, this may cause the reader to feel unsympathetic towards her because she is offending Candy, Crooks and Lennie, when they haven’t purposely done anything to offend or anger her. This quotation could also cause the reader to feel unsympathetic owards Curleys wife because she has two different personalities.
When she is around Curley and other people who are higher in the hierarchy, she lets them disrespect her and treat her in a negative manner, however when she is around people who are lower in the hierarchy than her, she brings out a side to her that is evil and cutting, and so would make the reader feel unsympathetic towards her. However, this may make the reader feel sympathetic towards her because she never gets the chance to look down on anyone, she is always treated like she is the lowest of the low, therefore she makes the most of being higher while she can.
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