Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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From Chapter 3 in Of Mice and Men, how could I translate Whit's slang to modern forms of speaking?  Whit said, “I see what you mean. No, they ain’t been nothing yet. Curley’s got yella-jackets in his drawers, but that’s all so far. Ever’ time the guys is around she shows up. She’s lookin’ for Curley, or she thought she lef’ somethin’ layin’ around and she’s lookin’ for it. Seems like she can’t keep away from guys. An’ Curley’s pants is just crawlin’ with ants, but they ain’t nothing come of it yet.”

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In a conversation between Whit and George, Whit describes Curley's wife as a flirtatious woman, who has got her eye on all of the workers on the farm. Whit then comments that Curley is constantly on edge because he is worried that his wife will cheat on him with one of the men on the ranch. The following is a modern translation of the brief conversation between Whit and George:

Whit said, "I understand what you're talking about, but there hasn't been any trouble yet. Curley has just been losing his mind and is extremely nervous all the time. Every time one of the guys is around, she seems to show up out of nowhere. She claims that she is looking for Curley or has forgotten something and is looking for it. Seems like she can't stay away from the guys. Curley is constantly worried and on edge but no trouble has come of it yet."

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In this passage, Whit is responding first to George's question if there has been any trouble since Curley's new wife arrived at the ranch. Whit responds that he understands what George means but there hasn't been any trouble yet.

The rest of the passage can be translated as follows: Curley has bees in his underwear (yellow jackets are actually a form of wasp, and drawers are underwear; this phrase means that Curley is on edge and nervous), but that's all that's happened so far. Every time the guys on the ranch are around, she comes by. She says she's looking for Curley or she forgot something and is looking for it. It seems like she can't keep away from the guys. And Curley acts like he has ants in his pants (again, meaning that he's on edge), but nothing has come of it yet. 

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