Curley’s wife in Of Mice and Men is given a fairly one-dimensional portrayal throughout the novella, as her character stays, for the most part, enigmatic. The most obvious example would be her lack of a name. She is continually referred to as a possession of her husband and without a name she becomes almost insignificant. The author, however, drops hints throughout the book telling his audience that there may be more to Curley’s wife than what is easily deduced.
One scene involving a sympathetic portrayal of Curley’s wife is when she is looking for Curley in Crooks’ quarters after Lennie and Candy enter. She knows where Curley and the rest of the men have gone, and grows angry at the cold treatment she is given by the three men in the room. Curley’s wife confesses her loneliness of being stuck in the house all the time and to not liking Curley’s company. She becomes even more angry about the lie of the circumstances of Curley’s hand injury and it is now obvious that her and Curley’s relationship is extremely dysfunctional and probably emotionally damaging to the wife.
Another important scene in which Curley’s wife is portrayed in a sympathetic manner is during her conversation with Lennie before her death. She confesses to Lennie that she dislikes Curley because he is angry all the time and says that she comes around because she is lonely and just wants someone to talk to. She speaks to Lennie not because she specifically cares for him, but because she lacks human interaction. Like George and Lennie, she once had a dream she sought for, of becoming an actress and living in Hollywood. Her dream went unfulfilled (which may also allude to the failure of George and Lennie’s dream), leaving her a very lonely person married to an angry man, living on a ranch without friends, and viewed as a troublemaker by everyone.
Even without thorough description and a mostly negative portrayal, Curley’s wife still contributes to the collective emotions of the characters involving feelings of outcast and lost dreams.