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How does John Steinbeck use colour to develop his characters in the novella 'Of Mice and Men'.

It is interesting to focus on Steinbeck's projection of females in his novella 'Of Mice and Men'. Only one female character is directly featured and is poiniently not a first name, instead she is simply referred to as 'Curly's wife' this signifying the possessive nature of their relationship and this theme could perhaps be expanded to reflect the position of females in general in 1930s American society.

To home in on females in this particular way provides specificity to an answer and will allow you to display indepth analysis to gain the highest possible marks. 

The focus of this question is colour, the colour Steinbeck uses in association with Curly's Wife is the red. Most frequently the colour of red is associated with danger and death perhaps due to its relation with the shade of blood. Much description is given of Curly's wife's appearance, such as her red finger nails and the 'little bouquets of [red] ostrich feathers' on her shoes' , these consistent references perhaps are used as a device of warning by Steinbeck and portray a sense of foreboding suggesting Curly's wife's imminent and violent death. 

Curly's wife is also decribed frequently as a 'tart' or a 'flousy', both derogatory terms and again seems portray women through the sexualised eyes of men in the era of the Great Depression in America. The colour of red can be associated with sensuality and sexuality and the danger which seems to be associated with it, this danger appears apparent in the eyes of the male characters when they repetitively refer to Curly's wife as 'jailbait' this again linking back to the danger colour of red and could tenuously be associate with sweet tarts. 

Julia S. GCSE English Literature tutor, GCSE English Language tutor, ...

2 years ago

Answered by Julia, a GCSE English Literature tutor with MyTutor


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