This chapter takes place the next night, while all of the men are off at the whorehouse spending their weeks' pay except for the feeble threesome of Crooks, Candy and Lennie. The setting is the "little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn" that makes up Crooks' quarters. Steinbeck gives us a glimpse at the quiet, neat, lonesome life of the black stable buck. While Crooks is belittled and ordered around in the ranch at large, in his bunk he is sovereign; none of the other workers impede upon his living space.
Lennie, however, doesn't understand the unwritten code of racial segregation. He appears in Crooks' doorway while checking on his pup in the barn. Crooks tells Lennie to go away, but the simple big man cannot understand that he isn't wanted. Crooks at last relents and allows Lennie to sit with him and talk. Lennie tells Crooks "about the rabbits" and Crooks vents about his mistreatment as an African-American. Their conversation takes an unsettling turn as Crooks teases Lennie about his lack of self-reliance; he tauntingly asks Lennie what he would do if George were injured. Unable to think hypothetically, Lennie thinks that George is actually under threat. With some difficulty, Crooks calms Lennie down and takes on a kindlier demeanor. His sour attitude remains, however, as he tells Lennie that his dreams of owning a farm with rabbits is unlikely to amount to anything tangible. Candy comes by looking for Lennie and Crooks is secretly pleased that after so many years of solitude he is finally part of a sort of social gathering. They continue to discuss their plan to buy a farm and Crooks begins to warm to the scheme, even offering his own money and services if they'll take him on as well. Just as they reach the height of enthusiasm for the plan, Curley's wife enters, ostensibly looking for Curley. She insults the men, noting their feebleness. This offends the two mentally sound farmhands but Lennie finds her fascinating. She...
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