Of Mice and Men

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Themes and Colors
Broken Plans Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Male Friendship Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Of Mice and Men, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Women Theme Icon

There are two different visions of women in Of Mice and Men: the male characters' view of women, and the novel's view of women. The men tend to view women with scorn and fear, dismissing women as dangerous sexual temptresses. Women are often referred to as "tarts," a derogatory word for women that means "tramp." Lennie and George have a mutual friend in prison "on account of a tart," and their own troubles result twice from the enticing allure of a woman—the woman in Weed, and Curley's wife. Yet although Curley's wife plays into her role as sexy temptress, Of Mice and Men presents her, at least partly, as a victim. She craves the attention of the men because she's desperately lonely, and flaunts her power over the men because she herself feels weak. Similarly, the novella's portrayal of Aunt Clara as a vision of wholesome femininity from a more innocent age contrasts with the male characters' consistently negative view of women.

Women ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Women appears in each chapter of Of Mice and Men. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Women Quotes in Of Mice and Men

Below you will find the important quotes in Of Mice and Men related to the theme of Women.
Part 5 Quotes
Why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.
Related Characters: Curley's Wife (speaker), Lennie Small
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

On a Sunday, Lennie sneaks into the barn to play with the puppies. One tries to bite him and, not knowing his strength as usual, he accidentally kills it. Curley's wife wanders into the barn, and seeing that Lennie is upset, tries to speak with him. Lennie remembers that George told him she was bad news, and tells her he can't speak to her. In this quote, Curley's wife complains that she feels lonely on the ranch. She is the only woman on a farm of many single men, and though she attempts to speak to the ranchers, her overt sexuality makes them uncomfortable--particularly due to the fact that Curley is the boss's son. This quote reveals that her flirtatious demeanor is only due to the fact that she is starved for affection, which she does not receive from Curley. She is drawn to Lennie because of his affability, and is surprised when he, too, shuns her like the other men. Tragically, it is this desperation for friendship that leads to her offering Lennie to touch her hair, and as a result, leads to her death. 

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He pawed up the hay until it partly covered her.
Related Characters: Lennie Small, Curley's Wife
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Curley's wife offers Lennie to touch her hair to feel how soft it is. Enjoying the feeling, Lennie continues to pet her hair even when she yelps for him to stop. Concerned that George will be mad at him, Lennie tells Curley's wife to stop yelling, shaking her to try and make her stop. The shaking breaks her neck, and she dies instantly. In this quote, Lennie realizes that he has done a bad thing--like in Weed, but worse--and hastily attempts to cover up his crime. Due to his disability, Lennie does not understand that partially covering the body in hay not only does not conceal it at all, but actively shows that someone tried to cover it up and was present, revealing the death as a murder. This further shows how Lennie, though physically at fault for the murder, truly does not understand his own strength or the repercussions of his actions. As George repeats to the other men, nothing that Lennie does is ever out of "meanness"--only careless accidents that stem from his mental impairments.