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In a tale of the dispossessed of the Great Depression, the itinerant workers George Milton and Lennie Small seek work on a ranch as "bindle stiffs." Before they start work, George delays their arrival until the next day so that he and his friend can enjoy a night of fraternity in the peace of the forest clearing outside Salinas. But, even in this quiet, pastoral setting, there are hints of the tragic event of Chapter 5:
Lennie's mental diminishment becomes apparent with his child-like behavior of hiding the mouse in his pocket and later retrieving of it when George tosses it into the bushes.
"Thata mouse ain't fresh, Lennie; and besides, you've broke it pettin' it."
Also, there is the suggestion of Lennie's uncontrolled strength in his "breaking" of the mouse.
Further, George alludes to the incident in Weeds in which Lennie grabbed a girl's dress--"hold[ing] onlike it was a mouse"--that she screamed and the men were forced to hide, sneak out at night and "get outta the country."
At the bunkhouse, George is very cautious and mistrustful, behavior which indicates his sense of estrangement. After George scolds Lennie for attempting to talk when the boss arrived,
"Now we got to be careful and not make no slips. You keep your big flapper shut after this."
the old swamper re-enters apologetically,
"I wasn't listening'. I was just standin' in the shade a minute scratchin' my dog...."
These words indicate the sense of mistrust and the alienation of the men, a overtone that is prevalent throughout the narrative. Later in the chapter, Curley's wife appears in the doorway, posed in a provocative stance. After she departs, George warns Lennie,
"...I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be."
George also expresses concern that he may "tangle with that bastard myself. I hate his guts."
In this chapter, George relates to Slim the details of the incident in Weed, an indication that he is always anxious about Lennie. He also indicates the physical prowess of Lennie, "And he's so G---damn strong, you know." Also suggestive of the danger that lies ahead, Slim asks George, "Didn't hurt the girl none, huh?"
Of course, Carlson's callous remarks to Candy about his beloved dog indicate the meanness and aggression of the men exhibited toward one another to which George has alluded in his conversation with Slim,
"Well, I can't stand him in here...That stink hangs around even after he's gone....Why'n't you shoot him, Candy?...Tell you what. I'll shoot him for you...."
Carlson's energetic cruelty in this scene clearly foreshadows his excitement about shooting Lennie in Chapter 5.
When Curley's wife reappears, there is certainly foreshadowing of the danger she presents. George tells Lennie, "She's gonna make a mess."
Another highly significant and prophetic line is that of old Candy who tells George that rather than allowing Carlson to shoot his dog,
"I ought to of shot that dog myself...I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog."
In this chapter, too, Curley's hand is crushed, foreshadowing the crushing of his wife's life.
As Lennie talks with Crooks in the barn, the stable buck is, at first, cruel,
"They'll take ya to the booby hatch. They'll tie ya up with a collar, like a dog."
This remark reminds the reader of the fate of Candy's dog as well as the eventual fears of George for his friend's fate.
The plot has been foreshadowed in many ways. When George first says that Lennie doesn’t know what his strength is and kills mice. He kills them because they are soft. While George is explaining Slim what happened in the weed he said him “…the girl lets out a squawk, and that gets Lennie all mixed up, and he holds on ‘cause that’s the only thing he can think to do.” In the same way Lennie catches Curley’s wife hair and doesn’t leave it even when she cries out because he doesn’t know what to do. Curley's Wife's death was also foreshadowed by Lennie's reputation as a troublemaker. George always saying “She’s gonna make a mess.” also helped foreshadowed the death.
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