Chapter 4 Summary and Analysis
Chapter 4 takes place on the following Saturday night. It is set in the tidy room of Crooks, the Negro stable buck, who tends to the horses and mends the leather items used with the animals. His room, a shed built against the wall of the barn, is decorated in much the same way as the bunkhouse, except he keeps in his room his leather working tools and medicines. His room also contains more personal items, including books. He has a dictionary and a copy of the California civil code. Crooks is himself crooked, bent to the left by a crooked spine. Steinbeck describes him as a “proud, aloof man,” who keeps his distance and demands that the others on the ranch keep theirs.
Crooks is sitting on his bed rubbing medicine onto his back when Lennie appears at his doorway, smiling. He explains that he has come into the barn to look at his puppy. He says that the others have gone into town and that he has gotten lonely. Though Crooks is at first reluctant to have one of the white farm hands in his room, he eventually yields.
Crooks decides aloud that Lennie is completely crazy and that Lennie often doesn’t understand and can’t remember what George talks about. He recognizes, too, the need of one man to have the company of another, even if it is just someone to talk to, who can’t understand completely.
Enjoying his intellectual superiority over Lennie, Crooks begins to taunt him, telling him to imagine that George never came back, and asking Lennie what he’d do. Lennie, not understanding, thinks that someone has hurt George and becomes angry. Crooks calms him and explains that he was just trying to make Lennie see how lonely things are for the only black man on the ranch. He cries to Lennie, telling him that books are not enough; reading doesn’t take the place of the companionship he is denied simply because of his color.
Lennie remains oblivious to Crooks’s point and returns, instead, to the dream of the two men to buy their farm. Crooks is scornful, saying that he’s seen hundreds of men come along with the same dream.
When Candy enters the barn looking for Lennie, Crooks calls him into his room. Candy, a little embarrassed, enters and comments that this is the first time he’s ever been in Crooks’s room even though they have both been there for a long time.
Sufficiently recovered, and prompted by Lennie, Candy returns to his original topic, the rabbits they will have on their farm. Crooks interrupts to add that their dream is an impossible one that he has seen shattered every time.
Candy defends their dream, telling Crooks that they already have the needed money in the bank. Crooks becomes drawn into the potential of this dream-about-to-become-a-reality, and he offers to work for free if they will just let him in on it.
At this moment, Curley’s wife enters. Lennie stares at her, fascinated by her beauty. Curley and Crooks scowl at her, and then each, in turn, encourages her to leave. She resists, arguing that she too should have someone she can talk to. Candy flares and stands up, insisting that she leave. He declares he is not afraid of her trying to get them fired, because they have a farm of their own to go to. She laughs, saying that she’s seen lots of men with that dream. Candy returns her derisive laugh and declares that the men will not talk to her.
Curley’s wife then turns her attention to Lennie, asking him where the bruises on his face came from. Candy becomes angry and threatens to tell George on her.
Crooks stands up with Candy and tells Curley’s wife that she has no business there and he insists that she leave his room. Curley’s wife turns on him, scornful, and reminds him that she can easily have him hanged. It is enough to crush Crooks and he submits completely. Candy returns the threat, saying that they would reveal that she had set him up. She retaliates, saying that nobody would believe them. Candy concedes that she is right.
Candy is finally successful in getting her to leave by telling her that...
(The entire section is 2,082 words.)