Because Crooks is black, he is segregated from the other men. He is not allowed to live in the bunk house but instead lives alone in a lean-to shed by the barn, almost as if he is a farm animal, sleeping in straw. The other hands say he stinks, but he says they stink. He doesn't participate in the card games with the other employees because they won't let him and leads a lonely life. He notes that when he says something, his words are discounted because of his race. When Lennie and Candy show up in his room, he says it is very unusual for any hand to visit him there. By depicting Crooks's bitter isolation, while revealing him to be fully human, Steinbeck shows how racism and segregation hurt blacks.