In Chapter 2 of Of Mice and Men, though Crooks is depicted as a social pariah because of his race, it is also evident that, unlike others, this man is no transient, and he may be better educated than some others. He also suffers from having broken his back.
As George talks with the "old swamper," Candy, he learns that the boss became very angry when George and Lennie did not report to the ranch in the morning, and he used Crooks as a whipping boy: "An' he give the stable buck hell." When George asks Candy why the boss would lash out at Crooks because of their actions, Candy explains,
"Sure. Ya see the stable buck's a n****r....Nice fella, too. Got a crooked back where a horse kicked him. The boss gives him hell when he's mad. But the stable buck don't give a damn about that. He reads a lot. Got books in his room."
From these words, the reader learns that it is acceptable to refer to Crooks with demeaning terms, rather than using his name ("n****r" and "buck"), and he is literate. Also, since he has books in his room, and the boss "give him hell" on a regular basis, Crooks is not a transient worker like George and Lennie.