Crooks is the old Negro stable worker who is separated from the other ranch workers because he is black. Crooks is crippled, having a crooked spine, and he sleeps in the harness room. Racism is still quite overt during this time, and Crooks understands this. Since he was forced to sleep in separate quarters, he developed an attitude that if he was to be ostracized, he would likewise not want others to invade his own space; an attitude of "if they don't want me, I don't want them":
This room was swept and fairly neat, for Crooks was a proud, aloof man. He kept his distance and demanded that other people keep theirs.
Although Crooks never welcomes guests in his room, he does allow Lennie in to talk in Chapter Four. This is interesting because both Lennie and Crooks are social outcasts, for different reasons. Crooks is proud but he reluctantly accepts that he is a second-class citizen in a racist society. When Curley's wife tells him she could have him hung, Crooks swallows his pride. Later, Crooks asks Lennie and Candy to leave because having his room to himself seems like one of the few rights Crooks has:
"I ain't sure I want you in here no more. A colored man got to have some rights even if he don't like 'em."