Curley's wife plays an important role in the novel and yet is never given a name. Perhaps Steinbeck was trying to not encourage the audience to develop a personal connection to her? I'd like to see various other points of view, supported by textual evidence.

  • Wonderful question! We need more like it on this site! I'll try to write an answer when I have time.
    – user111
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 21:59
  • @Hamlet Did you ever get around to answering this one? If you did, I'd love to hear it.
    – fi12
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 22:41
  • it's going to take me a while, because I have a lot of real life work. But I'll get to this, I promise, even if it takes me 6-8 weeks. (For the record, I think this is easily the best question asked on this site so far. You absolutely deserve an answer.)
    – user111
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 5:06
  • @Hamlet throwing you a ping in case you forgot about answering this :-) It's been more than 6-8 weeks, and the current answer isn't really very satisfying.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 9:52
  • @Randal'Thor I don't have the bandwidth for this particular question at the moment unfortunately, even though it's one of the better ones. It appears that I'll have to break my promise, but I hope I've written enough answers on the site to make up for that :) But I agree that the current answer is not at all satisfying... I'm wondering why more people haven't downvoted it tbh.
    – user111
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


According to this NYT Article, Steinbeck's wife Elaine asked him this very question.

His answer was:

"For one good reason. She's not a person, she's a symbol. She has no function, except to be a foil – and a danger to Lennie."

The article was written by Jay Parini, who also wrote a biography about Steinbeck. Since there are no references in the article, I emailed Parini to see if he could remember where he got the quote from, but he could not.


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