Study Guide

Of Mice and Men Women and Femininity

By John Steinbeck

Women and Femininity

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In Choose Your Own Woman: Of Mice and Men, you have two options: a prostitute, or Curley's wife. There's no such things as a nice girl to settle down with, if your life is spent moving from ranch to ranch on the open road. So, women are reduced purely to sexual objects—and at least with prostitutes, George says, you pay for what you get. Curley's wife is a sexual object, but all she can really offer is trouble. We get the feeling that the characters in Of Mice and Men would really be better off without women.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Is Curley's wife viewed as an especially bad woman, or is she pretty standard as far as the guys are concerned? What makes her so bad?
  2. Do any of the characters have a positive attitude towards any woman in the story? Are there any positive women around for them to have good attitudes toward? What about Aunt Clara? What about Suzy, who runs the good whorehouse?
  3. Is there a place for women in ranch life? Is ranch life supposed to be just a phase before the stability that comes with settling down and "having a girl"?

Chew on This

Curley's wife may be an awful woman, but she does suffer from real affliction and prejudice. Steinbeck uses her to illustrate the difficulties women faced during the Great Depression.

In Of Mice and Men, the only good woman is a dead woman.