In my essay, I will be giving my opinion on Curlers Wife’s presentation by Steinbeck; if it presents dislike and/or sympathy, and if so, with how much. My very first point simply begins with the name of the character that Steinbeck has chosen, ‘Curler’s Wife’. At first, it may seem astonishingly lazy for the author to choose a name for a character in the format how it is, however the lack of a name represents the futility of her presence, and possibly the general mentality of Stein beck’s generation towards women in the real world (but only to some extent).
Curler’s wife lacks a name because of the fact that she does not have her own specific identity. She is just simply regarded as ‘Curler’s Wife’ . She feels so insignificant and worthless that Steinbeck doesn’t even give her the basics of a name. Furthermore, she does not and never fits in with the ranch hands throughout the novel. These facts for ‘Curlers Wife’ entices the reader to find out whether there will be any more of a sense of identity for the woman, or sympathy for her lack of name as the novel progresses.
Curlers Wife is introduced in Chapter two of the novel, however in the usage, she is already being judged before she has even been physically introduced to the reader. This is when Candy is conversing with the new arrivals to the Ranch, George and Leonie. Here, Candy says “l think Curler’s married a tart”. In comparison to popular belief of the definition of ‘tart, one definition in slang terminology states that a tart is ‘A nubile young temptress, who dresses teasingly and provocatively. ‘ By looking at this definition, it indicates to us that Curlers Wife’s appearance won’t be much of a welcomed one.
The fact that Steinbeck prejudices so early in the novel regarding her may show how fast people in his time were poisoned with the same prejudiced mentality. This statement of intent from Steinbeck to show us what other characters in the novel think of her also shows very quickly that Curlers Wife won’t be any blessing as the novel progresses. Her physical introduction to the reader isn’t any better, this is evident when “the rectangle Of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. ” This excerpt is ominous; the ‘cutting off of the light symbolizes the amount of trouble she brings.
This is confirmed when George tells a staring Leonie to “Don ‘t you even take a look at that pitch. Don’t care what she says and what she does. Seen ‘me poison before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be. ” Lien’s mental shortcomings prevent him from seeing the blatant danger that George notices, and as usual, Steinbeck uses George as the paternal figure, warning his follower. Steinbeck description of the wife truly shows the reader how desperate she is for attention. It is shown in the following excerpt. “She had full, rouged lips ND 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 red she wears signifies the danger she brings. At the same time, this also provides a vital link between Curler’s wife with the girl in Weed who wore a red dress that Leonie encountered with. Curlers Wife is supposedly like an innocent young little girl – her hair in ringlets, and it also makes her sound quite young and essentially absurd under all the make-up; to fitting in.
At the same time, the ‘Sausages’ along with ‘red’ represent the lust she has for the new men on the ranch, despite having a husband. The ostrich feathers (also described as red) would have been incredibly expensive at the time of Steinbeck writing considering the financial collapse, further confirming her desperate to look as good as possible, again, despite having a husband. At this point in the novel, Steinbeck is throwing all the dislike towards the female. Steinbeck makes Curlers Wife’s sympathetic placement is shown towards the middle of the novel. His use of pairings with Curler’s Wife is not expected.
It’s shown when George mentions her towards the middle of the book, saying “Ranch with a bunch of guys on it anti no place for a girl, especially like her. ” The use of the word ‘girl’ has much more innocence than the word Weapon’, and this as a result shows us the sympathy Steinbeck has for the microcosm of the female Americans, portrayed through Curlers Wife. The lack of sympathy shown for Curlers wife in the opening chapters of the book asks the question if there will ever be any sympathy portrayed for her in he novel by Steinbeck It seems as if the problem of gender based prejudices are overlooked.
Throughout the book, there are a lot of insults thrown at the only woman in the novel. However, Steinbeck takes great care to stress the noun ‘girl’; its used 7 times in the book regarding Curlers Wife, whereas ‘woman’ is used once and offensive words like ‘pitch’ and ‘tart’ are only used twice. On the other hand, Steinbeck presents dislike for the Wife throughout the whole novel with the general hastiness by all the characters on the ranch, bar Leonie, who Steinbeck ensures that there is still a sense (albeit a small en) of innocence for him from the poisonous prejudices of society because of his mental state.
This is reviewed later in the essay. In Chapter four of the novel, Steinbeck presents Curlers wife presented in a new dimension, a threat. Like the situation for white women of Steinbeck time, there is a presence of a ‘hierarchy’ regarding blacks (represented by Crooks) and whites (everyone else) that everyone adheres to, regardless of what variation of black/white. There are also subdivisions: white men, white women, black men, black women; their ‘importance’ being listed respectively.
During this passage, the whole sense of sympathy is removed from the presentation of Curlers Wife and the focus is rather placed on her awareness of where she stands in this hierarchy. At her introduction into the passage, Steinbeck shows Crooks and Candy to have no respect for the woman, as they “were scowling down away from her eyes. ” The element of her being a swindler is still prominent, with her “parted lips”, however this does not stop the likes of Leonie still looking, “fascinated”. The fascination Of Leonie represents the feelings of the ranch men and possibly the white men of
Steinbeck time; no respect or empathy for the woman, but still deep down wanting a bit of their sexual offerings. Crooks’ reaction in particular to Curlers Wife at this point strikes disagreement with the hierarchy previously mentioned. Steinbeck does this to represent how people in his time may have tried to resign their place in society, with a low chance and rate of success. Steinbeck uses Curlers wife to strictly reinforce the hierarchy back into shape, evident when she says “Well, you keep your place then, Niger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it anti even funny. The structure the author uses s scandalous, how he uses the word ‘Niger’ with capitalization as if it is a noun, meaning by grammatical English law, that is Crooks’ name. With this technique, Steinbeck may make readers feel more hate towards the woman, however Steinbeck has shown Curler’s Wife to take advantage of the rare occasion where she can be the boss of someone in the same way her husband does. Steinbeck uses Curler’s Wife’s last appearance in the novel to show the reader the true characterization of Curlers wife; to see if there is anymore to Curlers wife than a thirsty opportunist.
Steinbeck does this by providing new. Inclusive dimension to her character, explained with irony, used cleverly by Steinbeck. Curler’s Wife’s constant dream of being in the limelight is impractical because all she ever does is radiate shadows and lure negative attention. An example of this is the, “sunshine in the doorway was cut off. ” This sentence also foreshadows the end of her life in the barn. Another example is when Leonie reveals that he likes to pet soft things to Curler’s wife, who in return offers up her hair, despite him telling her that many things he pet end up dead.
This is Steinbeck last use of foreshadowing. A fatal one. Steinbeck presentation of the characterization of Curlers wife makes us drastically gain more knowledge about her story before her death. The ‘truth’ of her personality, the innocence and her persistence to fulfill her own ‘American Dream’ (which by her death, essentially ends three people’s dreams), regardless of the circumstances. The author truly expresses her character only after death, where her face is described as being, “sweet and young” and the “ache for attention was all gone for her face. The use of the word ache suggests that Curler’s wife’s need for attention was so strong that t hurt her, after all it did hurt her personality. This is Steinbeck sympathetic side, along with the shock of Curler’s Wife’s death, and the realization that she was never a genuine ‘tart’ or ‘sailboat’. After her death, the “sun streaks were high on the walls”, and the barn is lit again. Here, Steinbeck shows his technique of pathetic fallacy in the levels of light and Curler’s wife’s changing appearance. TO conclude, I believe that John Steinbeck has provided two different sides Of Curlers wife brilliantly.