Whom did the boss punish when Lennie and George were late? And is he a nice guy like Candy says?   

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At the beginning of the novella, Candy tells George that the boss, Curley, was upset that they did not show up in the morning. Candy then says that Curley gave the stable buck hell too. When George asks why the boss would be upset at the stable buck, Candy explains that the stable buck is a "nigger" named Crooks. Candy tells George that the boss typically gives Crooks a hard time when he's upset. Interestingly, no reason is given as to why the boss takes his anger out on Crooks. The fact that he punishes Crooks randomly without reason suggests that Curley is mean-spirited. Candy then mentions that the boss is a "nice fella" despite his anger issues. As the story progresses, George and Lennie learn that Curly is an angry, self-conscious man who is continually arguing and fighting with others. Much of Curley's anger stems from the fact that his wife does not love him and he cannot trust her. The fact that Curley immediately picks on innocent Lennie, gives Crooks a hard time, accuses Slim of trying to hook up with his wife, and is the leader of the lynch mob implies that he is not a "nice guy." 

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The boss is largely an invisible figure. He emerges in the beginning of the story and after that he disappears. 

When George and Lennie arrive late, Candy is quick to point out that the boss is not happy.  In fact, Candy also says that the boss will give the stable boy hell. No reason is given for this action of the boss, other than the fact that the stable boy is black. It seems that the boss is a racist man who takes out his frustration on black people, because of the color of their skin.  Here is the quote:

"I guess the boss’ll be out here in a minute. He was sure burned when you wasn’t here this morning. Come right in when we was eatin’ breakfast and says, ‘Where the hell’s them new men?’ An’ he give the stable buck hell, too."

Is the boss nice? From the above point, no.  He is a racist man.  But most men in this context are probably racist.

Candy says that the boss is nice owing to the fact that he tries to be nice to the men at times. For instance, during Christmas, the boss gave the men a gallon of whiskey.  George is impressed with this point as well. 


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