Although Crooks is marginalized because of his color, he is, perhaps, not one to hope because of two other factors:
1. Crooks is disillusioned. Having once known a comfortable life, after experiencing the deprivations of the Great Depression and the limitations imposed upon him at the ranch, Crooks's point of view has become clouded by the contrast of his present state and that of his former life. Among his possessions, Crooks has a California civil code manual. From this manual, Crooks could have deduced the limits upon his personal rights, the nature of property and property ownership.
That he understands his subservient position in society is evinced in Chapter 5 after Curley's wife insults and threatens Crooks for telling her she could not come into his room. Crooks "had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego--nothing to arouse either like or dislike."
2. He is wiser than the other bindle stiffs. For, he has witnessed many a bindle stiff come and go, having a position that he can retain at the ranch. From these observations and from his reading--"he had books, too....there were battered magazines"--Crooks has probably gleaned much knowledge of men. Easily, for instance, he assesses Lennie's mental deficiences and takes the opportunity to manipulate and taunt him, having had the same done to him before: "Crooks's face lighted with pleasure in his torture."
Therefore, Crooks realizes the improbability of any dream ever truly being realized in the world in which the men exist.