Of Mice and Men Chapter 4 Summary

     This chapter begins with Crooks, the African American stable buck, alone in his room in the barn. He is rubbing liniment on his crooked spine, which pains him. Lennie peeks in because he had been petting his puppy in the barn and none of the other men were around because they went to town. Since Lennie isn't very smart, he doesn't realize that he should not enter the room of a black man. He tries to start up a conversation, but Crooks is so shocked to have a visitor that at first he seems upset by the intrusion. Once he realizes that Lennie is more like a child than an adult, he starts to enjoy the company and having someone listen to him for a change. He tells Lennie about his childhood and tries to make Lennie see how lonely he is, but Lennie fails to understand the hypothetical situation that Crooks proposes. Even though he was told not to say anything, Lennie specifically mentions their plan to buy a farm and own rabbits, which Crooks does not believe to be true.

     Then Candy shows up looking for Lennie. Secretly excited to have more visitors, Crooks invites him in, and Candy admits that even though both he and Crooks have worked on this ranch together for a long time, he has never been in Crooks's room before. Also breaking his promise, Candy tells Lennie about how he's been thinking of a way that they can make money off of the rabbits on the farm. When Candy explains to Crooks that they already have most of the money put together to buy the place, Crooks starts to believe they might really do it. He offers to come along with them if they need an extra hand.

     At that point Curley's wife shows up at the door. She says she knows where all the men have gone, including her husband, and points out that they left all the weak ones behind. She then asks Lennie about the bruises on his face, and he says that Curley got his hand caught in a machine, which confirms her suspicions that Lennie broke Curley's hand. Curley's wife tries to show her power over these weak men threatening to get them all fired before George shows up. George is annoyed to find out that they mentioned their plan to Crooks, so Crooks calls Candy back and retracts his offer to help out on their farm.

     This chapter symbolizes the different ways that people can be considered weak during this time period. Candy is marginalized because he is old and crippled. Crooks is also crippled but considered even lower because he is African American. Lennie is not treated equally due to his lack of intelligence. Even Curley's wife is inferior because she is a woman. Yet somehow all these weak people found one another, and until Curley's wife showed up seemed to be enjoying one another's company.

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