It has become routine for some of the ranch hands to go to town at the weekend as a welcome break from the drudgery of work on the ranch. When they visit the bars, run by Susie and Clara, they have an opportunity to socialize and meet women. Men like Candy and Crooks, though, are excluded since they are not much interested in these outings for a number of reasons.
George does not entirely reject Whit's invitation and says:
"Might go in and look the joint over."
He later affirms his willingness to go but states that he is not prepared to spend two and a half dollars on what, he probably believes, would be a waste of money.
"Me an' Lennie's rollin' up a stake," said George. "I might go in an' set and have a shot, but I ain't puttin' out no two and a half."
He and Lennie want to save as much as possible of their earnings because they have a goal. The two men have already planned to buy a farm and George tells Whit that they are setting up a stake, a reference to the money they wish to invest for its purchase. He reaffirms this desire later when the men want to see what Curley is up to and whether Slim is around. The men expect an altercation between Slim and Curley, but George wants to stay out of trouble. He says:
"I'm stayin' right here. I don't want to get mixed up in nothing. Lennie and me got to make a stake."
It should be clear that George is determined to meet the goal he and Lennie have set for themselves. It would mean independence. They would never have to rely on someone else once they have obtained their farm. George has already found a willing seller and will not allow anything to jeopardize their dream.
It is this dream that Candy later latches onto when he hears George and Lennie discuss it. His excitement and willingness to contribute make the dream seem more real than ever, and the three men are inspired and believe that they just might make it.
Alas, it is not to be. Subsequent events, involving Lennie and Curley's wife, destroy all hope and the dream is shattered.