Crooks and Curley’s wife experience loneliness and isolation
In this essay I intend to write about why Crooks and Curley’s wife experience loneliness and isolation and in what way they try to deal with these difficulties. Crooks is a nergro stable buck with a crooked spine. His eyes are described as the most noticeable feature on his face, brimming with knowledge of the injustice in life.
‘ His eyes lay deep in his head, and because of their depth seemed to glitter with intensity.’ He is also slim with a lean face, en-lined with wrinkles.
His lips are also described vividly as very thin and pain-tightened. He covers up his intense eyes with large gold rimmed spectacles. Curley’s wife is, of course a complete contrast, and is extremely pretty, thought sometimes try too hard. ‘She had full, rouged lips and wide-spade eyes, heavily made up.’ She has done her nails carefully which doesn’t seem very suitable for life on a ranch. Her voice is another thing that is commented on, as have a nasal, brittle quality.
Crook’s personality is somewhat of a mystery. His real personality is hidden by the racism of the time. He is hurt and shocked by people’s opinions towards him and so he feels the only way to get through life is to push back the same disgust to the other mean on the ranch.
‘This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here by me…I ain’t wanted in the bunk-house, and you ain’t wanted in my room.
Crooks doesn’t see that all his is really doing is stopping to their level thought, he just continues to treat others in the way he has been treated, and if he has a choice he just stays away from them. His personality would have developed differently if he had been born white, because his true colours are stunted by the racism against him. He teases Lennie, and takes pleasure in it, as though at last he is being able to do to someone else what has been done to him for his whole life, ‘ Crooks face lights with pleasure in his torture.’
The basic word to describe the personality of Curley’s wife is a flirt, although as we get to know more and more about her we discover that this is not completely true. In this essay I will try to explain why she behaves like this, and whether in fact she behaves like this just for attention and is concealing something. The personality of these characters is perhaps one of the keys to the book. However different these character are they are linked through their loneliness and the fact they conceal their true personality. The are both considered quite low on the ‘social scale’ but deal with this in very different ways as I will explain.
As I have said, Crooks is bitter about being made to live along above the stable. He expresses this bitterness, and tires to explain to Lennie how loneliness is so disturbed that it drives you mad
” I’ll tell you a get guys too lonely and he gets sick…….don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you.”
It must be a relief for Crooks to be able to share some of his problems with someone, and he must find it especially east with Lennie who probably will not understand, and will forget what he hears quickly. He is the only one who understands Lennie, besides George, and befriends him. He looks past Lennie’s mental handicap and Lennie looks past Crooks’ physical handicap.
Curley’s wife also finds it easy to talk to Curley. She is so overwhelmed by her loneliness, she seeks friendship from other men. She seeks out the friendship of Lennie for all of the others fear Curley and will have nothing to do with her. “Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in a while?” It is when she talks to Lennie that we discover a great deal about her past. She tells Lennie that she still dreams of what might have been, seeing herself as a potential film-star. However, in my opinion she has no acting talent, men (one from a travelling show, one who claimed to be in the movies) make her offers as a chat-up line. Her naivetï¿½ shows in her belief that her mother has stolen a letter (from her “contact” in Hollywood) which was obviously never written; her immaturity appears in her instant reaction of marrying the loathsome Curley. It was a hasty marriage to Curley is just a failed attempt to escape from her own spiral of loneliness.
When she chose to marry Curley it was all because of the wrong reasons and only to get away from her mother, one person who genuinely cared for her, ” Well I wasn’t going to stay no place where I couldn’t get nowhere.” Now she find herself very line and she has no-one to talk to, ” I don’ like Curley.’ Desperate for companionship she does not find at home, she tries to find solace with the other men. They are uneasy about this, as they think her to be seriously promiscuous, and are fearful of Curley’s reaction. Her inappropriate dress on the ranch and her manner brand her as a “tart”. She can not escape from this image and so she uses it so that she is noticed and can talk to people. Although in my opinion instead of being the mature and flirtatious female that the men see, she is in fact like a little girl yearning for her home.
She even talks to people who she considers to be ‘out of her league,’ but in a way this makes her a more tragic character, because unlike the others, even Lennie, she seems not to understand her limitations – or she refuses to admit them. She treats those below her in an unnecessarily disdainful way. There is one point in the book when Curley’s wife goes into Crook’s room. Crook, as I have said, pretends that he wishes no one to come into his room seeing as he isn’t allowed in the bunk house.
However, when Lennie and then Candy come in we can tell that he was actually very pleased, “It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger.” Candy and Crooks reacts to Curley’s wife primarily disgusted. On their faces they scowl at her and appear to wish that she wasn’t there. However as Curley’s wife points out it is doubtful whether they really feel this, for they would not doubt have acted very different if they were alone, “If I catch one man alone, I get along fine with him. But just le two guys get together and you just wont talk…you’re all scared of each other.
Curley’s wife is very rude to Crooks and says, ” I’m standing here talking to a nigger.” I think her reaction is like this because she feels very powerful to be talking to someone as sad and lonely as herself, but who is looked down upon by others. She likes to use this rare power and so when Crooks finally cracks and stands up to her she does everything with her capable possibility to make him feel small and unnecessary. “Listen, Nigger,’ she said. ‘ You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?’ This immediately makes Crooks turn into a no one. Every trace of a personality disappears, and he just answers in a monotonous voice.
After she leave Candy says,’ That bitch didn’t ought to of said that to you.’ And Crooks replies by saying ,’ It wasn’t nothing, you guys coming in an’ setting made me forget.’ Crooks obviously was so happy by having the company of some men that he forgets his place (in those times) and stood up to her. He then realised what he had done and remembered how he should have behaved. For that one small part of the story we saw the real Crooks, the one who is not concerned with racism, because for that very small amount of time he believe himself to be normal.
Curley’s wife though doesn’t have a very suprising reaction to Candy (the old-swamper) and Crooks. I believe that she is angry because she just realised how messy her life is. She tries to stay calm and talk to them as thought they are beneath her, but all the time she realises that she is just as sad and lonely as them. She sees that they are the only people she can have a proper conversation with are, as she describes them ‘ a nigger, an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep.” At one point in the conversation she says, ” Whatt ya think I am, a kid?” and then she continues to talk about how she was nearly in the pictures. Of course, she is just a kid, who doesn’t understand herself.
He also wants to be part of George and Lennie’s dream. He said that
he would work for free. He gives up on the farm dream when he realizes it
isn’t going to work out. Talk about this. Also say that crooks was nasty to lennie then nice.
I would describe Curley’s wife as a sympathetic figure. There is a very strong description towards the end of the book, just as she has been killed by Lennie, ” And the meanness and the planning and the discontented and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young.
Curley’s wife has had a very unfortunate life. She made some wrong decisions and has been punished for them, by dying unhappy at such as young age. To all the other people on the ranch she is only important because she is the wife of Curley, and that explains why she is given no other name. They are scared of getting involved with her because of what Curley might do to them. No-one is ever actually interesting in her. I feel sorry for her that someone who has the potential to be so sweet and calm has lives such as sad life and has died before anyone knows her true colours.
Crook, like Curley’s wife has had a sad life for the later part of his life at least. Nothing will ever get better for him, because of his colour. The war Steinbeck talks about him is very controversial nowadays and would not be accepted. At the time that this book was written this language would have been more in use and so perhaps it would have been more acceptable, meaning that Steinbeck was not ware of its full impact. The fact that he portrays crooks as a unhappy and meaningful character must indicate that the author believes racism to be unfair, or else he would have been portrayed as evil, someone deserving what he got. Many upon reading this book may believe that the key issue is George and Lennie, but in fact this novel raises many questions about discrimination and loneliness.
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