How Curley’s Wife from “Of Mice and Men” Shows the Necessity of Women’s History Month
“Coming off the heels of Women’s History Month, some might come to the conclusion that it’s unneeded as a month-long celebration. Ultimately, people can acknowledge the works of any gender at any time, right?” Read guest author Risha Joriza’s piece about Women’s History month and how one particular character from “Of Mice and Men” is the perfect example of why it’s necessary.
Coming off the heels of Women’s History Month, some might come to the conclusion that it’s unneeded as a month-long celebration. Ultimately, people can acknowledge the works of any gender at any time, right? No need to make a big deal of it. However, it is such a big deal, because these achievements were fought to be recognized and respected, as women have been overlooked and disregarded throughout time, consistently.
Just look at the book I was assigned for English class as an example: “Of Mice and Men” is a considerably heart wrenching story, of course for it’s bittersweet ending, but also for it’s implications of a character we’ve never gotten the name of.
Curley’s wife is all I know to call her, despite her importance to the climax of the story and her sad demise, her relationship with Curley is more significant than her own name. Story-wise it makes sense as the ranch workers swore off involving themselves with her, thus not knowing her name, but it’s also a commentary in itself of how women were defined by the men in their lives: Curley being hers.
This is evident even more as we read the story through the perspective of George and Lennie, who understand and trust the other men, who speak ill of her, more than the woman herself: believing easily that she’s a “tart” who can’t keep her eyes on the ring on her finger.
Although, as a girl reading the book, I didn’t see her the way the author intended her to be when we’re first acquainted with her character. Rather than filling me with a sense of salaciousness, she felt more lonely to me than anything. That the only social interaction she seemed to have was with the men she was surrounded with, and the only way she had them talk to her was by asking for the location of her husband.
It all seemed so isolating, being avoided and demeaned by the people around her, who only know her by the sordid rumours detailing her promiscuity. Unable to do anything but be Curley’s possession, a wife to be held by his Vaseline coated hand with.
However, we see later on that she’s more than that. That she’s a person with a dream as well, confiding in Lennie that she longed to be a movie star, to be of importance, and for the first time, in a long time, when she did get attention from someone it led swiftly to her death.
A tragic end made even more tragic as Curley never grieved for the loss of her as a person, but by the audacity and revenge possibility it gave to him, and by the end that lone star died; her identity stripped away as we’re left with knowing her only as Curley’s wife.
Now, that fate is one an innumerable amount of women have gone through, have experienced. Their individualism wiped away to make room for others, for men, and that’s why we honor women’s history in March, because through all the strife of being erased they still shone through.
Their name being known like they deserved, like so many other women lost in time deserved, and like women deserve now and in the future.
This post was submitted for publishing by Risha Joriza, a guest author. If you want to see your work published, click here to get in contact with us.