In chapter 2 of Of Mice and Men, describe the frequent tension and suspicion between characters, as well as the indications that everyone at this ranch is "mean," to use Lennie's description. Point out two examples of kindness in this chapter.

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In Chapter 2, George and Lennie arrive at the ranch to work. They were supposed to get there in the morning, and the old man who greets them lets them know that the boss isn’t happy with them. He says, “He was sore as hell when you wasn't here to go out this morning."

George ignores this comment and instead remarks on the yellow can of bug killer he finds. He becomes upset and suspicious about what their living situation will be like, and the tension which had already surfaced mounts. The old man tries to assure them it will be fine, explaining that the man who slept there before him was very clean, and would have had something like that just in case. George spends some time inspecting the bed before deciding that it will be acceptable. We can see that neither side is going to be easy to please.

The boss comes in and is, as the old man had indicated, upset that George and Lennie hadn’t arrived when they were supposed to. George explains why they were late, but he isn’t exactly apologetic, and because he’s speaking for both himself and Lennie, the boss becomes suspicious of what George is trying to hide. He says, "Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is."

George lies and says that he looks out for Lennie because they’re cousins, and he told Lennie’s mother that he would. Once the boss has left, Lennie remarks on George’s lie, and George realizes that the old man is outside listening. The tension becomes even thicker as George is angry, but the old man is able to convince him he’s not trying to make trouble.

Curley, the boss’ son comes in, and it is clear he’s going to create problems for Lennie. Curley is a small man but a fighter, and he likes to instigate things with men much bigger than him. George is very worried about what will happen to Lennie, and Lennie is afraid. The old man shows a curious sort of kindness by gossiping about Curley and his wife, explaining that Curley’s wife gives other men “the eye.” This makes George and Lennie feel a little more welcome, and softens the old man toward them as well. It has a calming effect on the entire situation.

The other kindness shown to George and Lennie is by Slim, the jerkline skinner. He expresses hope that George and Lennie will be assigned to his team, and is admiring of both Lennie for the amount of work George says he can do, and George, for complimenting Lennie. It is clear that Slim is a fair, even man.

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