Of Mice and Men – Isolation – Curley’s Wife
Curley’s wife is the only female on the ranch and is described in a very feminine and incongruous manner, “full, rouged lips and wide spaced eyes, heavily made-up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers”. The bold, heavily made-up appearance matches her personality as she disguises her true feelings and emotions with lies like the colourful, interesting appearance disguises her lonely, isolated life.
As the only woman, she is segregated from the ranch society and Steinbeck makes her seem more isolated and friendless by never giving her a name but being identified as Curley’s possession. She is seen throughout the novella searching constantly for Curley yet this is just an excuse to talk to the other people, ““I’m looking for Curley,” she said, her voice had a nasal, brittle quality. ” She struggles to create friends or let alone have a civilised conversation with the men on the ranch.
She uses this feminine appearance and flirtatious, predatory behaviour in an attempt to communicate and attract attention to herself. However this backfires and leaves her in a no-win situation as her heavily sexualised manner is the key point of criticism amongst the men as they describe her as a “tart” and “a piece of jail bait” who, if approached, will only lead to trouble as she can ultimately cause the destruction of their own versions of the ‘American Dream’. Her isolation throughout the novella is caused by her gender, sexual appearance and predatory behaviour.