In Of Mice and Men, character symbolism lets the reader see what life was like in the 1930’s. Many of the characters portray a certain person that could have been living in the 1930’s. This book is about the adventures of two men, George Milton and the mentally disabled Lennie Small.
They were migrant workers who had to search for work during the Great Depression. You see the friendship between the two men, and how they care for each other and try to protect each other. Author John Steinbeck does a great job of expressing character symbolism in the story.
He shows how back then, the American dream was extremely hard to accomplish because of The Great Depression, and unequal rights towards women and the mentally different. Curley’s wife symbolizes how women were treated in the 1930’s. In the 1930’s women were treated as objects.
They had no rights or freedom. It was impossible for women to accomplish the American dream, because woman were property of a man, giving them no independence to be something other than a housewife.
My first example on how Curley’s wife was treated as an object is simply in her name, she doesn’t have one. In the story Curley’s wife is addressed as Curley’s wife. You never find out her name. This gave her and all women a persona of worthlessness, that they were just put on the earth to be mistreated housewives and not have anywhere close to the same opportunities as men. Since women didn’t have many opportunities besides prostitution, Curley’s wife didn’t have much of an exciting life. When her husband Curley was not around she would get lonely.
In this quote, Curley’s wife expresses her loneliness, “’I get lonely,’ she said ‘you can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley, else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to nobody? ‘” (Steinbeck 87) Curley’s wife says this quote when all the men went to town, including her husband.
It shows that she spends all her time alone, in her house as the men work in the fields. She is also not allowed to talk to anyone but her husband who spends all of this time in the fields, so she feels like she is living alone all her life.
Many people dreamed for the American dream, especially Curley’s wife. Curley’s wife dreamed of being a highly paid actress. In this quote Curley;s wife is expressing her dream of being an actress,”’Coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes … An’ I coulda sat in them big hotels, an’ had pitchers took of me.
When they had them previews I coulda went to them, an’ spoke in the radio, an’ it wouldn’ta cost me a cent because I was in the pitcher. … Because this guys says I was a natural. ’” (Steinbeck 88) Here she is dreaming of a better life than the one she has now.
But because of the time period it was very hard for women to accomplish their dreams let alone be allowed to have them. In Of Mice and Men, character symbolism lets the reader see what life was like in the 1930’s. Curley;s wife symbolized the level of equality that women had in the time period that took place in the story.
Women were property and objects. Steinbeck does a great job of symbolism of women through Curley’s wife. He shows how back then, the American dream was extremely hard to accomplish because of The Great Depression, and unequal rights towards women and the mentally different.