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Curley’s Wife- How Does Steinbeck Present Her in the Novella

  • Date Submitted: 12/12/2013 09:22 AM
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Curley’s wife- how does Steinbeck present her in the novella

As readers’ we first hear of her pessimistically through gossip and Candy says she’s a ‘tart’, Steinbeck here presents her in a negative way even before she is introduced in the novel. Steinbeck first introduces her with   ‘the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off’, as readers we could interpret this as her being the darkness that blots out the light, so she could be seen as a dark and dangerous character, ‘sunshine represents hope and she cuts this off showing that she is their to crush people dreams. “The rectangle in the doorway was cut off” strongly shows the changing mood of the room as it changes to a darker light. The idea that Curley’s wife has “cut off” the light from entering the bunkhouse predicts that she will possibly bring darkness to George and Lennie’s life. The blocking of the light changes the mood of the bunkhouse and the men and creates a foreboding atmosphere yet again foreshadowing the trouble to come. Steinbeck then uses the noun: “a girl” to describe Curley’s wife. Steinbeck uses third person narration to show his opinion of her. “Girl” connotes images of someone innocent and almost childish. The way Steinbeck has described her contrasts hugely with Candy’s perspective of her- “tramp.”

Steinbeck describes her as having ‘rouged lips’, ‘red mules’ and ‘red’ fingernails and ‘red’ ostrich feathers. Perhaps Steinbeck wants to show her as a character who is deeply concerned about her looks or maybe the use of the adjective ‘red’ implies something, as readers we know the red is used to symbolise danger and violence, but also love and passion. Maybe Steinbeck wants us to realise that she is a dangerous character and shouldn’t be associated with. Steinbeck describes her as ‘heavily made up’, the adjective ‘heavily could show that she has not just put a little make up to look pretty but has plastered it on like a mask, this could show that she’s hiding her insecurities or...


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