Of Mice and Men Chapter 5 Summary

     This chapter begins with Lennie in the barn holding his little puppy that he just accidentally killed. He's yelling at the puppy as though it's the puppy's fault that it's so small, and it died. When he hears someone coming, he partially covers it with hay. Curley's wife comes up to Lennie, and he tries to explain to her that he isn't supposed to talk to her. She points out that no one will know because all of the other men are outside having a horseshoe tournament. Then she notices the pile of hay and asks Lennie what happened to the puppy. He explains that the puppy pretended it was going to bit him, so Lennie pretended he was going to smack it, then he did, and it died. Curley's wife consoles him and tells him it was just a mutt, and he can get another one. Lennie is not so much upset about this particular dog as he is about the fact that he thinks George won't let him take care of the rabbits due to his poor care of the puppy.

     They each continue to make confessions. Curley's wife explains how she was once told she could be in the movies, but she thought her mom hid the letter that was supposed to arrive from the agent. She then ran out and married Curley just to escape her mother even though she doesn't really like Curley. Lennie admits that he likes to pet soft things, so Curley's wife suggests feeling her hair. Soon Lennie is pounding his big hands down her head, and she's worried he's going to mess her hair up, so she tells him to stop.

     Lennie becomes alarmed by her tone of voice and covers her mouth to get her to be quiet. Being held tight to Lennie panics Curley's wife even more, so she struggles to get loose. Her struggling and continued screaming scares Lennie even more, so he shakes her. With one of his shakes he turns her head and accidentally breaks her neck. He drops her to the ground and tries to figure out what to do. Ultimately, he grabs the dead puppy to throw it away and runs toward the brush where George told him to hide if he ever got into trouble again.

     Candy comes in and notices the dead woman on the ground. After inspecting her more carefully, he runs to get George. They both know who did it. George tells Candy to run out and tell the other men, and he'll run in with them as if he doesn't know what happened so that the guys won't think he had anything to do with it. Candy does so, and George reenters last. More angry than upset, Curley also quickly realizes who did it and wants revenge. He tells Carlson to grab his gun because they're all going after Lennie to shoot him. They want George to come with them so that they can keep an eye on him. Slim tries to convince Curley to stay with his dead wife, but he won't listen, so Candy stays behind, mourning not only the dead woman but also the death of their dream.

     George purposely misleads the group by sending them in the opposite direction of where he suspects Lennie has gone. Carlson tells the group that his gun is missing, so they assume that Lennie stole it, which is another reason why Curley decides they need to shoot him once they find him.

     This chapter signals the death of the dream that had grown from a far-fetched prospect to a likely possibility back down to nothing. Candy seems more hurt than George about not buying the farm because he was going to gain more than just a more comfortable lifestyle. He was going to gain lifelong friends. George is not as focused on the farm because he needs to decide what to do with Lennie. He knows jail isn't a good option for him nor would a mental institution be a civilized place to put him, but he doesn't want Curley to shoot him either. He also can't let him run away on his own because he knows Lennie would never survive.

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