Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What does Crooks suggest to Lennie in chapter four? What almost happens? Why does Crooks do this?

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If one of the themes in Of Mice and Men is loneliness and exclusion, another could be “man’s inhumanity to man” or the persistence of social hierarchies, even in the constrained circumstances of the ranch.

Crooks, as a Black man, has been forced out of the bunkhouse by the other men and sleeps by himself. Lenny, however, is someone of an even lower social order than his; this is why he torments Lenny, suggesting that George might have “taken a powder” and left Lenny by himself. When Lenny finally understands what Crooks is suggesting, he is barely able to contain his fury; Crooks backs down, and says he was only trying to get Lenny to think about what it might be like to be alone.

The episode underlines the fundamental problem of the book. What Crooks craves is someone he can explain his loneliness to; Lenny is at best an imperfect partner for this, but Crooks’ desire for companionship is every bit as fanciful as Lenny’s certainty about raising rabbits with George. Crooks...

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