Of Mice and Men: Sexism and Degradation of Women

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In the Novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the author is representing sexism and the degradation of women because of how Curley’s wife is flirtatious , how she is talked about by men and the way that her death was treated. Curley’s wife was considered flirtatious throughout the book. Men seen her as taken but not happy in that relationship which showed by her actions in her body language as well. Curley’s wife is also talked to in a way women would consider disrespectful. Men don’t respect her because of how she portrays herself towards others as well. She shows off as a woman who doesn’t ever know where her husband is. This gives her a bad look because it shows that she never spends time with him at home and has to find things to do.

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The way everyone disregards her death is a unfortunate state. Everyone just goes on about there day and acts like she was nothing from the start of the day. Curley’s wife was flirtatious towards other men. Whenever she walked into a room men always knew it was her because of her Flirtatious eye and walk while she was talking to others around her. The authors use the wording when Curley comes searching for her is different as well. Throughout the novel, Curley is continually looking for his flirtatious wife. He sticks his head in the bunkhouse and says, “You seen a girl around here?” (Steinbeck, 18). After Curley mistakenly assumes that Slim is having an affair with his wife, he challenges Carlson after he wonders why Curley allows her to hang around the bunkhouse with the other men. The reason she is always around the ranch and the only women at that is because she gets lonely.

Curley really isn’t much company to her but is always “looking for her”. Curley’s wife talked about her dream of going to shows but didn’t really go threw with it. So her flirtatious ways come from her not wanting to stay in the house and not worried about Curley because he has left her with no company. Curley’s wife also gets talked about by men a lot throughout the novel. Just then, Curley’s wife enters. She is very pretty and wears a lot of makeup. While asking where Curly is, she moves to ensure that she shows off her body (Steinbeck, 56).

Curley’s wife enjoys threatening the men with her good looks. That is what men like to see and it gets their attention, but that is also the main thing they talk about. She cruelly cuts down Candy for his old age and meekness, Lennie for being “a dum dum,” and she tells Crooks, “I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny” (Steinbeck, 120). Men talk about her because she shows herself off as this lonely women who needs attention because her husband isn’t giving her any.

So men like George tell Lennie to stay away because she can get them into trouble that they don’t need. When Curley’s wife dies people were worried in the moment but then after it seemed like nothing even happened. The meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. (Steinbeck, 5) This really shows the Self- obsession she had of herself and the cruelty she had all coming back to her. Curley’s wife is self-obsessed, and unable to judge herself and uphold her position. At every opportunity, she talks about her lost opportunities in life. Curley’s wife convinces herself that her mother stole the letter, rather than realize that the guys weren’t interested in her talent they were really interested in her body.

Curley’s wife’s obsession with herself ultimately leads to her death. She is half-afraid of Lennie, but she also wants his attention and praise. She is a tease, leading guys on to make herself feel better. ultimately she got what she deserved by the logic of the novel. Curley’s wife suffered a terrible death but had it coming back to her. The way she showed herself off and the way she acted towards others really gave her a bad reputation of herself. She was a pretty woman but always showed off her body so men could see. She had a dream but the men that told her it could come true only seen her body as the dream that they were going to get. Her claim of being lonely was a way for her to lead men on and get her way. While curley is out and looking around for her she isn’t worried about curley but she is talking and hanging around other men. Although Lennie didn’t mean to kill her, it all happened because she didn’t want him to mess up her hair but she was the very one who wanted Lennie to give her attention and praise her. Overall everything that Curley’s wife did wrong to others because she was lonely all came back to her in the end and stabbed her in the back.

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Of Mice and Men: Sexism and Degradation of Women. (2019, Jun 12). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from

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