Characters of Curley’s Wife and Slim in ‘of Mice and Men’ Essay
“Old Candy watched him go. He looked helplessly back at Curley’s wife, and gradually his sorrow and his anger turned into words. ‘You God damn tramp,’ he said viciously. You done it di’n’t you? I s’pose you’re glad. ’” Curley’s wife is a key character to ‘Of Mice and Men’ because she plays such a vital role in the story. She is the only woman on the ranch, and it is her presence and her behaviour that bring about Lennie’s final downfall. Although her behaviour may be partly because she is lonely, the men dislike her because she is both malicious and flirtatious.
Even when she is dead, Candy talks about her disrespectfully and blames her for spoiling the dream. “… he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch. Slim is also a key character to the novel. Slim, however, is in many ways the exact opposite of Curley’s wife. He is very kind, skilled and doesn’t demand attention or respect, but he earns it. He is ‘the prince of the ranch’. Technically, this should be the role of Curley, as the boss’ son, but Slim takes over this role.
He has been appointed the role by the ranch workers, who all look up to him and respect his opinion on all matters “… be it politics or love. ” Slim never discriminates against anyone, not even the Negro stable buck, Crooks. He is always kind and generous and sees the good in people. He says of Lennie; “Guys don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. ” Curley’s wife however doesn’t care about anyone else. She is mean and racist to Crooks and abuses her power, “‘Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny. ” I think that she discriminates everyone else because she also is discriminated against. She is objectified throughout and is only referred to through physical descriptions of her looks and is only referred to as “Curley’s wife”. Slim on the other hand is compassionate, like when Candy’s dog is killed and he offers Candy one of his newborn pups. Slim has two sides to his personality, “His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer. ” This quote shows that he has a gentle, sensitive side, but also a practical side as well.
For example, he drowns off four of his newborn pups straight away as his dog couldn’t feed them all. His more sensitive side is reinforced by a sympathetic personality and the ability of being a good listener. When George wanted to talk, “Slim neither encouraged nor discouraged him. He just sat back quiet and receptive. ” This quote also shows he is a trustworthy person as people confide in him. This theme of a dual personality can also be seen in Curley’s wife, in the description after she has died, “… the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face.
She was very pretty and simple and her face was sweet and young. ” Although she appears as “a tart” and is continuously attention seeking and flirting, we feel that this is maybe at least partly because she is in an unhappy marriage, married to a “Swell guy, ain’t he. He spends all his time sayin’ what he’s gonna do to guys he don’t like, and he don’t like nobody”. She is also lonely. “Think I don’t like to talk to nobody ever’ once in a while”. Underneath all the attention seeking we see a different side to her personality only after she has died.
Curley’s wife always seems to bring out the worst in people, just as she causes Curley to become more arrogant and cocky after she marries him. Slim always brings out the best in people by empathising with them and showing concern. He always supports his team and checks they are all alright, even his horses, as he goes out into the barn several times a night to check on them. At the end of the book, when George has shot Lennie, he helps George up and comforts him by saying “You hadda do it George. I swear you hadda. ”