Curley’s spouse is the only female on the cattle ranch and is described in a really womanly and incongruous manner, “full, rouged lips and large spaced eyes, heavily made-up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair awaited little rolled clusters, like sausages.
She used a cotton house gown and red mules, on the insteps of which were little arrangements of red ostrich feathers”. The strong, heavily made-up look matches her character as she disguises her true sensations and feelings with lies like the colourful, interesting look disguises her lonely, isolated life.
As the only female, she is segregated from the ranch society and Steinbeck makes her appear more separated and friendless by never providing her a name but being recognized as Curley’s possession. She is seen throughout the novella searching constantly for Curley yet this is simply an excuse to talk with the other individuals, “”I’m trying to find Curley,” she said, her voice had a nasal, brittle quality.” She struggles to produce pals or not to mention have a civilised conversation with the males on the ranch.
She uses this feminine appearance and flirtatious, predatory behaviour in an effort to communicate and bring in attention to herself. However this backfires and leaves her in a no-win situation as her heavily sexualised way is the key point of criticism among the men as they explain her as a “tart” and “a piece of prison bait” who, if approached, will just lead to difficulty as she can ultimately cause the damage of their own variations of the ‘American Dream’. Her seclusion throughout the novella is caused by her gender, sexual appearance and predatory behaviour.