Of Mice and Men Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis

Summary

It is morning at the ranch where Lennie and George have come to work. An old man named Candy leads them to the bunkhouse where they will stay. Lennie remains silent as George asks Candy about the condition of the bunkhouse and the nature of the boss. Candy diplomatically states that the boss “gets pretty mad sometimes, but he’s pretty nice.” At Christmas, for example, the boss gave the ranch workers a gallon of whiskey to share. Even Crooks, the black stable worker who is generally segregated from the white workers, was allowed to join the party.

Moments later, the boss enters. George introduces himself and Lennie. The boss directs several questions at Lennie, but George answers each one. “Why don’t you let him answer?” the boss asks suspiciously. “What you trying to put over?” He muses aloud that the relationship between George and Lennie seems odd, declaring that he’s never seen one man “take so much trouble for another guy.” George lies and says that Lennie is his cousin. He also lies about the reason the two of them left their previous employer in Weed. The boss tells George and Lennie that they are to work with a man named Slim.

When the boss leaves, George and Lennie speak freely about the lies George told to the boss. Abruptly, they notice Candy in the room. Beside Candy is a blind, lame dog. “That’s a hell of an old dog,” George remarks.

Curley, a slight young man dressed in high-heeled boots and one black glove, enters the bunkhouse. He is the boss’s son. Like his father, Curley takes note of Lennie’s silence and harasses him for it. He warns Lennie to “answer when you’re spoke to” next time and promptly leaves. Candy, a witness to the exchange, explains that Curley is insecure due to his small stature: “He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys.”

George sits down at a table to play solitaire. He converses further with Candy, who reveals that Curley was married a few weeks ago and that his wife is a “tart” with a roving eye. The men conclude that Curley’s wife’s promiscuity has made him insecure.

George worries aloud that Lennie will clash with Curley. “I hate that kinda bastard,” he says, reminding Lennie that if trouble occurs, he should hide in the brush by the river until George comes for him.

Curley’s wife enters the bunkhouse. She wears thick makeup and red ostrich feathers, and her hair is heavily styled. She claims she is looking for her husband, and she twists her body in a suggestive manner as she speaks to the men. As they converse with Curley’s wife, Slim enters the bunkhouse and disappears into the washroom. Curley’s wife leaves.

“Gosh, she was purty,” Lennie remarks. George warns Lennie to “leave her be.” He fears that trouble may arise between Lennie and Curley’s wife. Lennie grows upset at the admonishment. He says he doesn’t like the ranch and wants to leave. George responds that he doesn’t like it either but that they should earn at least a few dollars before moving on.

Slim emerges from the washroom and greets George and Lennie warmly. He is a tall and majestic man with a gentle voice. George introduces himself and Lennie, explaining that his traveling companion “ain’t bright” but is a good worker.

A man named Carlson steps into the bunkhouse and asks Slim how his dog’s newborn pups are doing. Slim says there were nine of them but that he drowned four, because the mother dog couldn’t handle the entire litter. Carlson suggests that Candy shoot his decrepit dog and take one of Slim’s dog’s pups. He complains about Candy’s dog, saying, “I can smell that dog a mile away. Got no teeth, damn near blind, can’t eat.”

The conversation is interrupted by the dinner bell, but Lennie is fixated on the pups, and his eyes are full of excitement. Without discussing it outright, George knows what Lennie is thinking: he’d like one of Slim’s pups. George says, “I heard him, Lennie. I’ll ask him.”...

(The entire section is 1,358 words.)