Of Mice and Men – Letter From Curley’s Wife

The Tyler Ranch
Near Soledad
California
14th August, 1932

Dear Mom,

I guess I haven’t been much of a daughter these last months, after I ran out like I did and didn’t call or write. I left under a cloud and I’m sorry for that. I was mad and I needed to get away. Me and you’ll never see eye to eye about that producer and the letter he said he’d send. I guess you’ll believe what you’re going to believe and I’ll believe in myself.

This may come as a shock but I got married. No, not to the producer, but to a farmer! I was going to work my way to Hollywood and then try to get into the movies but I met Curley in Soledad and, after a real quick romance, we got married two months ago.

I’m living on the ranch now and, truth be told, I don’t think I can be here much longer. I made a mistake in marrying Curley. I needed a way out of living with you and the only way I could do that was to marry someone, to be respectable.

Curley was following me around like a pup for weeks and I liked the attention he gave me; made me feel pretty; special. I could see the way it tore him up to see me talking with other guys, even though we weren’t together. I thought it was kind of sweet. He seemed to be so in love with me.

He promised he’d give me everything: clothes, money, jewels. Even said he’d come with me to Hollywood. It was the answer to all my dreams. So, after a whiles, he asked me to marry him and I said yes. We got married two days later in the church at Salinas. Curley doesn’t hang around.

We didn’t have no honeymoon. We just came back to the ranch and had a dance in one of the barns. It was nice but… I didn’t see none of my family, and the only friends there seemed to be the hands, and every one of them was frightened of Curley. He got real antsy if one of the guys asked if I wanted to dance. Not really a dream wedding but I was so happy to be heading for Hollywood.

Two months down the line and Curley don’t hardly talk to me now. Or, if he does, he shouts. Thinks I’m a tramp because I talk to the guys in the bunkhouse. What’s he expect? That I’d sit home doing crochet all day and not talk to no-one? Hell, even when he is home he treats me so darn mean.

I feel such a fool now. I should’ve seen he wasn’t the kind to treat a girl nice. When he only had eyes for me, they were green eyes. Jealous eyes. He wanted to own me and, like a fool, I fell into his trap.

My days are long and empty and blue. For a little conversation, a little connection, I don’t know what I’d do. I guess that’s why I’m writing you. Curley can’t get jealous about a pen. As long as I keep writing I can feel like I’m talking to you, and I don’t need to feel bad, like Curley’s going to hit me.

The guys here all think I’m some kind of tart. Like I only want one thing from them. Ha! That’s a hoot. All I want from those dummies is two minutes conversation. But… But I learned to play it mean; to be sharp. I ain’t no tease but sometimes it feels like that’s the only way I can get someone to say “hello” to me. The guys are terrified that they’d get canned if Curley saw them talking to me. So nobody does. Maybe it would be different if there were girls here but there aren’t. Just me and a bunch of men who don’t talk.

Outside they’re playing horseshoe. I can hear the clang of the shoes on the post, and the whooping from the guys. I bet Curley’s out there too. If I went out they’d just stop playing, like the game was just finished. It’s awful, Mom. I ain’t ever been this lonely. It ain’t right, neither. A married woman shouldn’t be lonely. Her man should be there for her. My man is only here for me when he’s telling me to go inside.

Couple of days ago two new guys blew in. Seems one of them’s a big stupid guy, the other small and smart. Kind of funny, really. They’re different to the other guys, though. Got a different atmosphere around them. Different to all of us, like they’re going to be alright because they got each other. Darndest thing. These two guys who ain’t got no real place travelling together, they’re doing better than all the rest of us. Partnership, you’d call it. Maybe I’m jealous.

I’m going to Hollywood, Mom. If I have to walk there, I’ll get there. I know you don’t believe there was ever a producer who thought I could make it in the movies, but maybe you’ll change your mind when I’m on the silver screen, twenty feet tall, wearing furs and jewels.

I guess that means I’m leaving Curley, too. Well, that ain’t so bad. I don’t expect folks in Hollywood will ask too many questions and Curley could find someone else to lock away in this house as easy as he found me.

I’ll write soon, when times are happier.

Your daughter,

Rita

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