Of Mice and Men Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Of Mice and Men Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis


At dusk, George and Slim enter the bunkhouse after a day of work. George thanks Slim for giving Lennie one of his dog’s pups, and Slim compliments Lennie’s impressive strength. “God awmighty,” he says, “I never seen such a strong guy.”

Slim invites George to talk about his relationship with Lennie, and more details emerge about the two men. Lennie and George grew up in Auburn, where George knew Lennie’s aunt Clara. When Aunt Clara died, Lennie fell in with George. At first, George kept Lennie around for entertainment, because it made him feel good to be the smarter man. Then one day, as a joke, George told Lennie to jump in a river, and he obeyed. But Lennie couldn’t swim, so George had to jump in and save him. George voices guilt over the incident, saying, “An’ he was so damn nice to me for pullin’ him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in.”

Slim draws from George an explanation of what happened in Weed. Lennie reached out to touch a girl’s pretty red dress. The girl screamed, causing Lennie to panic and grip the dress even tighter. The girl claimed that Lennie raped her, and a lynching party formed to take revenge. Lennie and George fled the scene, hiding in an irrigation ditch and eventually escaping the town.

Lennie returns to the bunkhouse, excited about his new brown and white puppy. He tries to conceal the fact that he has smuggled the pup back to the bunkhouse, but George knows instantly that Lennie has taken the dog from its mother. “You get right up an’ take this pup back to the nest,” he instructs. Lennie obeys. Slim remarks, “He’s jes’ like a kid, ain’t he.”

As Lennie departs, Candy and his old dog enter the bunkhouse. Carlson enters shortly thereafter, and he immediately smells the dog. Carlson lashes out at Candy, saying the dog is “no good to you . . . and no good to himself.” He insists that Candy should shoot the dog. Candy balks at the idea, but Carlson presses the issue. Candy looks to Slim for help, but Slim does not step in. Finally, Candy agrees to allow Carlson to shoot the dog in the back of the head. As Carlson leaves with his gun, Slim reminds Carlson to take a shovel along. He kindly tells Candy that he can have any pup he wants.

After Carlson leaves with the dog, Candy lies on his bed staring at the ceiling while George plays cards with a worker named Whit. When a shot rings out in the distance, all eyes fall on Candy. Wordlessly, Candy turns to face the wall.

Crooks enters the bunkhouse to tell Slim the tar is ready for his mule’s hoof. He also tells Slim that Lennie is out in the barn with the pups. Slim leaves, and George and Whit continue to play cards. The conversation turns to Curley’s wife, and the men discuss her promiscuous reputation. Whit says it seems she “can’t keep away from guys.” Whit also offers to take George into town to visit Susy’s place, a local brothel, where he can purchase whiskey and a “flop” if he wants to. George says he might go have a drink but won’t pay for a “flop.”

Carlson and Lennie return to the bunkhouse. Curley stops by, looking for his wife. When he discovers that she’s not there, he demands to know where Slim is, insinuating that Slim may be with her.

All the men depart the bunkhouse except for George, Lennie, and Candy. George and Lennie talk about various things, including Curley’s wife. Conversation turns to their dream of buying a farm and living off the land. “Tell about that place, George,” Lennie says. George talks about the home they will one day have: ten acres, a windmill, an orchard, and an alfalfa patch where they can grow rabbit food. The scene grows more elaborate as George describes it. He is clearly as entranced with the fantasy as Lennie is.

Both men jump when Candy suddenly speaks; they had forgotten he was in the room. Candy is intrigued by their plan to buy a farm and wants to be a part of it. He offers to chip in his money, about $350, to buy a piece of property...

(The entire section is 1,649 words.)