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

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Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis

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Whit: one of the common farm hands who also lives in the bunkhouse

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Crooks: a stable hand

Later that same Friday, Slim and George return to the bunkhouse. Outside the other men play horseshoes, while inside Slim and George discuss Lennie. According to George, he and Lennie were born in the same town. George knew Lennie’s Aunt Clara who had raised Lennie from infancy. When she died, George became his caregiver. George denies that Lennie is dumb, saying instead that he is simple. He confesses that he played tricks on Lennie in the past but stopped when he realized Lennie’s loyalty was so strong that he would do anything George required.

George also tells Slim why he and Lennie left their last job in Weed. Lennie had seen a girl’s dress that he thought was pretty, so he reached out to touch it. When he did, the girl began to scream. Lennie panicked, gripped the dress, and wouldn’t let go until George hit him in the head with a fence picket. When the girl reported that she had been raped, Lennie was in danger of being lynched, so the two men fled.

When Lennie comes in, hiding a newborn pup that Slim has given him, George demands that he give it back to its mother. He explains that Lennie will kill the pup if it isn’t returned to its mother. Slim commends George for his efforts and agrees that Lennie is a “nice fella,” a good-hearted person who “ain’t mean,” a childlike man.

Candy and his lame dog come in, followed by Carlson, a ranch hand. After complaining about the smell of the old dog, Carlson suggests shooting it to put it out of its misery. Candy refuses, saying that the dog has been his companion for many years. Carlson presses the issue and will not be put off by Candy’s remonstrances. They are interrupted by Whit, another ranch hand, who shows them a western magazine and a letter to the editor written by a man who had worked on the ranch three months before.

When conversation turns back to Candy’s dog, and Slim agrees with Carlson that the dog is no good to anyone, Candy yields to the pressure. Carlson, his gun in his pocket, leads the dog out of the bunk while Candy lies staring at the ceiling. The silence that follows is uncomfortable for all.

After the shot has sounded, Crooks, the stable buck, comes to the bunkhouse for Slim. The two of them leave to go to the barn to mend a mule’s foot with hot tar.

During a card game with Whit, George is invited to go to Susie’s place, one of the local whorehouses. When Curley comes looking for his wife, he hints that he is going to confront Slim about her whereabouts. The men in the bunkhouse follow him to the barn to watch the match. George and Lennie are left in the room. Candy, forgotten, remains on his bunk facing the wall.

In this private moment, Lennie again prods George to tell him again of their dream home. Lennie becomes fixated on tending the rabbits. As George describes the ten-acre farm, Candy is drawn into their dream. To become a partner in their dream, he offers to give George $350 of the $600 George says he would need to buy the farm. George agrees. All three are excited at the now realistic prospect of getting the farm.

Obviously irritated, Slim returns to the bunkhouse followed closely by an apologetic Curley. Carlson verbally attacks Curley, calling him “yella as a frog belly.” Even Candy adds an insult, mentioning Curley’s gloved hand, “Glove fulla vaseline.” When Curley turns his glare to Lennie, Lennie is still smiling at the idea of the farm and the rabbits. Curley, however, thinks Lennie is laughing at the insults directed at him.

Curley attacks Lennie, bringing blood from his nose. Then Curley attacks his stomach and cuts off his wind. Lennie cries out and tries to escape. It is only when George has directed him to fight back that Lennie makes a move at Curley. As Curley swings to hit Lennie again, Lennie catches Curley’s fist in his own big hand and crushes it. He brings Curley to the floor “flopping like a...

(The entire section is 2,102 words.)