After Lennie and George arrrive at the bunkhouse in Chapter 2 of Of Mice and Men, they encounter an old man who has been sweeping the floors. He is rather gruff with them,
"The boss was expectin' you last night,....He was sore as hell when you wasn't here to go out this morning....You can have them two bunks near the stove."
When George objects to the bunk because he finds a can of bug spray, the old swamper hedges in his answer saying repeatedly, "Tell you what" and pauses in between phrases. As George inquires why one man quit, the old man says,
"Why...he...just quit, the way a guy will."
He is reluctant to divulge any information and is cautious George and Lennie. But, finally, he warms to their company and is happy to have someone with whom to talk, relating information about the boss. However, when the boss arrives, the old swamper, Candy, looks quickly at him, and then "shuffled to the door rubbing his whiskers with his knuckles as he went." He tells the stocky little man that the men have just arrived.
Much like his old dog, Candy, the old swamper is kept around because he is old and cannot work anywhere else. He stays and cleans while the other men go out during the day. As quickly as he warms to George, Candy is probably rather lonely. Still, he is careful not to divulge any information which could get him in trouble with the boss, an action that indicates his insecurity although his telling about Crooks suggests that Candy does feel superior to someone.
The awkward dialogue among the men in Chapter 2 illustrates the alienation of the migratory worker who must be cautious around strangers.