Is Curley’s wife a victim or a villain?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Curley’s wife can definitely be seen as a victim in the novel “Of Mice and Men” due to the way she is treated and marginalized by the other ranch workers. Throughout the book, she is constantly objectified and scorned by the men on the ranch, which ultimately leads to her tragic fate.

One of the main reasons Curley’s wife can be considered a victim is the way she is treated by her husband. Curley is possessive and controlling, often treating her as if she is his property rather than his wife. He constantly demands to know her whereabouts and is incredibly jealous and suspicious of any interaction she has with other men. This type of treatment is not only emotionally abusive but also isolates her from any form of companionship or support.

Furthermore, the other ranch workers also contribute to Curley’s wife’s victimization. They see her as nothing more than a flirtatious and promiscuous woman, labeling her as a “tramp” and a “tart.” The men on the ranch view her presence as a threat to their own stability and relationships, causing them to distance themselves from her and treat her with disrespect. This marginalization is evident in the way they refer to her as “jailbait” and a “piece of jailbait,” reducing her to nothing more than an object of desire.

The men’s judgment of Curley’s wife is based solely on her appearance and flirtatious behavior. They fail to see her as a complex individual with hopes, dreams, and emotions. Instead, they view her as a temptation and a source of trouble. This dehumanization and objectification of Curley’s wife contribute to her victimhood, as she is constantly denied the opportunity to be seen as a person worthy of respect and understanding.

It is important to note that while Curley’s wife can be seen as a victim, she is also flawed and makes poor choices throughout the novel. Her desire for attention and companionship leads her to seek out the companionship of the ranch workers, often provoking their negative reactions. However, it is crucial to recognize that her actions are a response to the isolation and mistreatment she faces on the ranch.

Curley’s wife is undoubtedly a victim in “Of Mice and Men.” She is mistreated by her husband, isolated by the other ranch workers, and objectified based on her appearance. While she may make mistakes, it is essential to empathize with the circumstances that led her to seek attention and companionship in an environment that constantly belittles and marginalizes her.