Curley's Wife Stereotypes

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The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression are brought to mind when reflecting on the 1930’s, a well-remembered landmark in American history. The fictional novel Of Mice and Men gives us a detailed flashback to what was happening in this era and exposes the many hardships and prejudices of the day. John Steinbeck uses stereotypes to illustrate how difficult life really was in the thirties for the discriminated: women, African-Americans, the mentally challenged, and the elderly. Women were seen as less than men, African-Americans were still being discriminated against, people with mental disabilities were thought to be inferior and easily manipulated, and the elderly were seen as useless and decrepit. The characters in Steinbeck’s novel can be viewed …show more content…

Curley’s wife is over stereotyped in such a way that it helps define her character and foreshadow her demise. She is self obsessed and she builds herself up by dragging other people down. Curly’s wife never achieves her dream because she trapped herself in an awful marriage to escape her family and did not think about the consequences. When she was younger, Curley’s wife desperately wanted to be a famous actor. People told her that she had incredible talent and was a “natural” at acting, and she looked past the possibility that these could all just be good pick-up lines, weaving herself a web of lies (88). Curley’s wife tells Lennie that she once met a guy “and he was in the pitchers”(88). This man promised her that he would write to her when he returned to Hollywood, but she never received the letter. Curly’s wife was so full of herself that she believed “her ol’ lady stole it”, and would not accept the possibility that this man was not an actor or that she was not good enough (88). She was determined to get away from her family, so she married almost the first man she met, without even getting to know him first. Now, she is the only woman living on a ranch and she has no one to talk to. She told Lennie that if she had been allowed to be in the movies, she “wouldn’t be livin’ like this” (88). Curley’s wife was stereotyped as a helpless woman from the time her character was introduced to the time she was murdered. In the 1930’s, women were supposed to stay at home and do chores while their husbands were away, and then wait on them when they returned. Curley’s wife felt that her family was holding her back from her dreams, and the only possible way that she could find out of her situation was marriage. Because she was a woman, she could not just go to Hollywood herself and demand an audition, or confront her parents, which seems almost silly now but was a real issue back in the thirties. Curley’s wife is more outgoing than most women, and she is rewarded with names

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