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Of Mice and Men

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Description of Curley's Wife

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A girl was standing there looking in. She had 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.... Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality.

What is the effect of this description of Curley's wife?

A

Curley's wife is portrayed as a beautiful, confident, and stylish woman, which aligns with her role as the boss' wife.

B

The use of the simile, "like sausages," suggests that the men on the ranch don't really see her as a person worthy of respect.

C

This description ties into the theme of beauty that is first introduced in Chapter 1 with the description of the Salinas River, using Curley's wife to carry this theme through the men's time on the ranch.

D

This description serves to portray Curley's wife as a ridiculous woman who, with her hair in ringlets and her brittle voice, is almost like a delicate, breakable little girl who does not really "fit" in her adult "costume" of heavy makeup, decorated red high heels, and mismatched cotton house dress.

E

Curley's wife is introduced this way because Steinbeck wants the reader to empathize with her as a victim whose husband forces her to wear fancy clothes and heavy make-up in order to impress the ranch hands.