In Of Mice and Men, why does Crooks let Lennie into his room despite initially reacting badly?

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Consider the life of a segregated African-American in 1930s California.  And Crooks is not only segregated from the other ranch hands, but he is the only black man ostensibly anywhere nearby.  I think Crooks is both lonely and bored.

He is also intrigued by the fact that Lennie doesn't seem to understand why Crooks is treated differently.  He just strikes up a conversation (albeit a naive, innocent one) with Crooks as though the two were not a black man and a white man, but just two men.  This is quite likely the only time Crooks has ever felt this way in his life.

Even though you could argue that the men on the ranch were not intentionally cruel towards Crooks, he probably felt the sting of segregation more than most, as he was facing it entirely alone.

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In my opinion, Crooks lets Lennie in because he realizes that Lennie is even more of an outcast than he is.

At first, I think that Crooks doesn't want to let Lennie in because his room is his sanctuary.  This is the only place where he doesn't have to feel inferior to all the white people.  So he doesn't want to let anyone in to make him feel inferior.

But Lennie can't make Crooks feel inferior.  Lennie is too pathetic in his own right.  Crooks finally lets him in after he and Lennie talk about Lennie and George and the puppies.  This shows how sad Lennie is -- he needs the puppies, George won't let him touch them, it's pretty pathetic.

 

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In Of Mice and Men, what reason does Crooks first give for Lennie's not being welcome in his room?

A "proud, aloof man," Crooks is absorbed in rubbing liniment onto his crooked back when Lennie appears like a humble, ingratiating puppy in the doorway of the barn:

For a moment Crooks did not see him, but on raising his eyes he stiffened and a scowl came on his face.

Lennie smiled helplessly in an attempt to make friends.

You go no right to come in my room.  This her's my room,. Nobody got any right in here but me.

After telling Lennie that he has no right to come into his room, Crooks tells him that he has no business in the barn since he is no skinner:  "You ain't got nothing to do with horses."  But, Lennie explains that everyone else is gone, and he has come "to see my pup."  Against Lennie's "disarming smile" and childlike ways, Crooks condescends to let Lennie stay.  Soon he realizes that Lennie is not capable of repeating what he says, so he opens up in their conversation having been lonely for such a long time. 

He enjoys toying with Lennie to turn the tables, so to speak, since it has always been he who has been rejected: "S'pose George went into town tonight...[and]don't come back no more...Lennie gets worried, and then angered when Crooks persists in torturing him.  When Lennie stands up and walks "dangerously" toward Crooks asking "Who hurt George?" Crooks realizes that he must desist. 

Gently, he talks to Lennie, explaining that Lennie has George and he has no one.  Expressing one of Steinbeck's motifs, Crooks tells Lennie,

A guy needs somebody--to be near him....A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody.  Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you...I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.

In his defensive pride, Crooks first rebuffs Lennie's attempt to enter the barn, then, he later reveals his angst:  loneliness.  This search for brotherhood is a motif of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."

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In Of Mice and Men, what reason does Crooks first give for Lennie's not being welcome in his room?

Crooks is the black stable buck in John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men. Because he is a black man living on an all white ranch in the 1930's he is a victim of both racism and segregation. He is rarely welcomed into the bunkhouse where the white workers live. Candy describes one time when Crooks was invited into the bunkhouse and, because of his color, is involved in a fight. Candy says in chapter two,

"They let the nigger come in that night. Little skinner name of Smitty took after the nigger. Done pretty good, too. The guys wouldn’t let him use his feet, so the nigger got him. If he coulda used his feet, Smitty says he woulda killed the nigger. The guys said on account of the nigger’s got a crooked back, Smitty can’t use his feet.”

Crooks lives in a private room in the barn and when Lennie, who is lonely because George has gone into town, tries to enter, the black man becomes defensive. He tells Lennie that it is not fair for the big man to come into his room because he is not welcomed in the bunkhouse where Lennie lives. When Lennie asks why he is not wanted Crooks says,

“’Cause I’m black. They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me.” 

Lennie, of course, doesn't really understand this. He has no awareness of racism. For Lennie, Crooks is just another man on the ranch. He sees Crooks's light and wants the companionship. He doesn't know it's bad to socialize with a black man.

 

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