Why isn't George happy with his bunk, but how does Candy reassure him?  John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first section of "Of Mice and Men," George and Lennie, two itinerant workers during the Great Depression have arrived near the ranch where they have found employment.  However, they stop and camp about a quarter of a mile outside the ranch where they are going to sleep because, George tells Lennie, "I got a reason."  George knows that they must work tomorrow, so he wishes to enjoy the freedom of looking up at the stars the night before.

On the next morning, the men arrive at the bunkhouse where they are escorted by Candy, the old man who sweeps up.  He points out to bunks near the stove.  George goes to his and open the box shelf and finds a yellow can that reads, "positively kills lice, roaches, and scourges."

'What the hell kind of bed you giving us, anyways. We don't want no pants rabbits.'

Candy, "the old swamper," reassures George by telling him,

'lat guy that had this bed was a blacksmith--hell of a nice fella and so clean a guy as you want to meet.  Used to wash his hands even after he ate.'

When George still questions the existence of the can, Candy replies that the man was so cleanly that he used

that stuff...even if there wasn't no bugs--just to make sure, see?

George is yet wary and inquires why the man quit, but Candy says that he "just quit."  He asks Candy about the other men, too.  In his manner of arriving after the ranch hands have left in the morning, George is able to learn about the people he will work with and able to carefully examine his living quarters.  These details point to the experience of George and his wariness.  From the incident in Weed (mentioned in the exposition) where they worked on a ranch, George has learned to be very cautious. In addition, there are suggestions of the relationship that displaced men have to one another and some foreshadowing of conflicts to come.