Of Mice and Men Chapter 2 Summary

     This chapter begins with George and Lennie being shown around the bunk house by an old swamper named Candy. Candy cleans up around the ranch despite the fact that he's missing a hand. Candy tells the men a little about the boss and how he mistreats the stable buck when he's angry since the stable buck is African American. The stable buck has his own room in the barn, and he has a crooked back.

     The boss then enters the room and begins interviewing George and Lennie. He's angry that the men didn't arrive yesterday when they were supposed to, so George tells him that the bus driver dropped them off too far away. As the boss asks questions about their previous work experience, he notices that George is doing all the talking. This silence from Lennie is purposeful as George had previously told him not to say a word, or he would lose them the job. The boss, however, is suspicious of George and asks if George is stealing Lennie's pay. George lies and says that Lennie is his cousin who was kicked in the head by a horse when he was young in order to explain Lennie's lack of intelligence. The boss seems satisfied and hires them. When the boss leaves, Lennie questions why George lied about them being related and him having been kicked by a horse, neither of which are true.

     Then, Candy returns followed by his very old, gray dog. Soon after Curley, the boss's son, pops his head in. It's clear that Curley likes to act tough. He doesn't like George answering questions for Lennie either. When Curley leaves, Candy explains that Curley is a boxer, so he's always trying to pick fights with big guys, like Lennie. Recently married, Curley lives in his dad's house with his new wife, who Candy refers to as a "tart" who he's seen giving other guys "the eye." George warns Lennie to stay away from Curley.

     Next, Curley's wife stops by looking for Curley. She's young and pretty and quite flirtatious. When Slim enters, she leaves. George warns Lennie to stay away from her too, and Lennie begins to get a bad feeling about working here. Slim, a friendly worker, asks George about their previous work experience. George explains how he and Lennie always travel together, which Slim comments is somewhat unique in this line of work.

     Carlson, another worker, comes in and asks Slim about the puppies that his dog had the previous night. Lennie overhears this conversation and promises to ask Slim if Lennie can have one of the puppies. Carlson suggests that they give a puppy to Candy so that he can shoot his dog and get rid of it since it's so old and smells.

     This chapter establishes the setting for the majority of the book and the various other characters who will be important to the story. A foreboding mood is created subtly hinting at all the possible ways Lennie might get himself into trouble. Even though the people on the ranch seem friendly, none of them seem to have close relationships. The friendship that George and Lennie share stands out on this ranch.

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