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English - Women in "Of Mice and Men"

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Arthur Masure

on 3 January 2014

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Transcript of English - Women in "Of Mice and Men"

language towards women
When the workmen describe Curley's wife, they use derogatory language:
"...Curley's married... a tart." - (p.50)
"Jesus, what a tramp," - (p. 54)
"Don't you even take a look at that bitch." - (p. 54)
"...I never seen no jail bait worse than her." - (p. 54)
"...cause she's a rattrap if I ever seen one." - (p. 54)
Relationships in the Novel
Candy & his dog
Lennie & George
(None with women)
Women in "Of Mice and Men"
GQ: What does Steinbeck's portrayal of women in "Of Mice and Men" reveal about the society in which the novel is set?
Summary - GQ
To summarize...
Society was clearly divided.
Furthermore, women were regarded as sex objects/playthings or mother figures.
Society expected nothing more of these women.
We see that society back then was a mans world
Steinbeck communicates this by giving the women lesser roles, leaving them out of meaningful relationships and by showing how the workmen view women.
The Girl in the Red Dress
Seems very vulnerable
There were serious consequences for under-aged relations
She plays the role of a victim
A victim of Lennie's
We see that women are given a victim role through different forms
Movie Stars
"Coulda been in the movies, an' had nice clothes - all them nice clothes like they wear" (pg 125) - All other people and themselves care about the movie stars' looks.
Curley's wife looks up to these movie stars. - " When they had them previews I coulda went to 'em, an' spoke in the radio, an' it wouldn'ta cost me a cent because I was in the pitcher" (pg 125) - She is also very naive in saying that the previews wouldn't cost anything; if she were an actress she wouldn't mind paying. This also shows how distant she is from the lifestyle of actors and actresses.
The only chance for Curley's wife to gain importance in society was taken away from her
Society in that era made it difficult for women to make a big break because men had power and women were expected to serve these men
Movie stars aimed for attention even if it was negative attention
Early movie stars played victims saved by men
More object than human. - "My girls is clean" (pg 79)
Men's play things - "Well, a guy got to have some fun sometime..."
The men are not thought badly of if they go to these cat houses because it has become a part of society
Aunt Clara
Lennie idolizes her somewhat.

She seems to be the exact image most people would immediately think of when thinking about grandmothers. "She wore thick bull's-eye glasses and she wore a huge gingham apron with pockets, and she was starched and clean." (p. 141)

Seems like a very respectable lady

Now we see that women are either mother figures or are play things in the novel
How do the Workmen View Women?
Curley's Wife
Strong figure at first, but ends up being portrayed as weak.
Probably abused by Curley quite often - she is very scared of him.
"I don't like Curley. He ain't a nice fella." (pg 125) - she does not like him, yet she stays with him.
Plays the role of the victim
What roles has Steinbeck given the female characters in
Of Mice and Men
What does this say?
Steinbeck portrays the women in the novel through:
Giving the female characters lesser, submissive roles in society
Describing how the workers see the women
Leaving women out of meaningful relationships
Therefore, this tells us a lot about the society in which the novel is set. We can interprete that women were neither respected nor appreciated. They are valued only for what they can offer to men
These two important relationships add to the novel by foreshadowing the future and showing the unusual friendship for that time period
The fact that Curley's relationship with his wife is not meaningful reveals that he does not feel that she is meaningful to him.
Curley's wife is only portrayed as a someone for Curley's amusment instead of being part of a love based relationship
This shows that relationships such as marriage were part of tradition and women were considered as objects involved in this tradition instead of being captured by love
Her name?
Steinbeck has not given Curley's wife a name...
When we speak of her, we say 'Curley's wife', taking meaning and identity away from her - she becomes a stereotype
This also makes her an object of Curley's, showing that men were seen as more important and better.
Girls are property of their husbands. - "Wife lives over in the boss's house" (pg 49)

Curley's vaseline-filled glove.

Women are expected to marry & do housekeeping.
Steinbeck limits the role of women to that of either a mother-figure or a sex object. - They are portrayed as victims...
(Sex Object)
(Sex Object)
(Sex Objects)
(Sex Objects)
(Mother Figure)
Sam & Arthur
Steinbeck, J., 2000. Of Mice and Men. Unknown ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
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