At first Crooks is entirely skeptical about Lennie’s dream and tells him that he has seen countless men who had the same dream and never made it come true. Then when he learns from both Lennie and Candy that they have $350 in cash and will add another $100 when Lennie and George get their paychecks for the month, he realizes that they will have most of the $600 they need to buy the farm. At that point he changes his mind and asks to be allowed to live with them. He asks only for room and board and no money. They, of course, will have to leave that up to George. Then when both Curley’s wife and George intrude into Crooks’ humble room, all sorts of conflicts develop. George is angry because he specifically told Lennie not to discuss their plans with anybody. Curley’s wife is hostile because all three of the men want her to leave, and she directs her rage and resentment against Crooks, going so far as to threaten to have him lynched.
Crooks is worldly wise. He realizes that he is better off living in his miserable isolation than he would be living in a place where he could have no privacy, no security, and no respect. He probably sees that the utopian dream shared by George, Lennie and Candy would turn out to be a disappointment, like so many utopias. Everything would depend on George’s management, and he could easily get tired of the responsibility. Three men living together could start bickering, as they are doing right now in his room. They might have enough food to eat, but where would they get the money to buy anything else? Crooks got a good scare from Curley’s wife, and then another scare when they heard Curley and some of the other men returning from town. If Curley had caught his wife is a black man’s room, Crooks might get a beating and then lose his job. These whites have brought nothing but trouble into his little sanctuary. As the three men are leaving, Crooks calls Candy back for the following exchange:
“’Member what I said about hoein’ and doin’ odd jobs?”
“Yeah,” said Candy, “I remember.”
“Well, jus’ forget it,” said Crooks. “I didn’ mean it. Jus foolin’. I wouldn’ want to go no place like that.”