Of Mice and Men Chapter 2
The men arrive at the ranch the next morning after the other workers have gone out to the fields. An old man (Candy) takes them to the bunkhouse and shows them where they can put their belongings. The old man is bent with age and missing one of his hands. George becomes angry with him when he finds lice spray near his bed, but the old man reassures him the bed is clean. The boss comes in, angry that Lennie and George have arrived late. Lennie forgets about not talking, and when the boss hears him repeat George's words, he becomes suspicious. George has to reassure the boss that although Lennie isn't bright, he is a hard worker. Still suspicious, the boss asks George what kind of scam he's running. George lies and says Lennie is his cousin, and he takes care of him because he was kicked in the head as a child. The boss is somewhat satisfied, and leaves. Once the boss is gone George gets mad at Lennie for almost losing their job. Lennie asks George if he was kicked in the head, or if they are cousins. Lennie seems unsure of his own history, and confused by the lie. George tells Lennie of course what he said was a lie. Without George's aid Lennie could never have gotten or kept this job.
Candy comes back, this time with his old sheepdog. He and George are starting to talk when Curley comes into the bunkhouse. Curley is a small in size but strong, a former boxer. Insecure about his stature, he becomes defensive and irritable around guys who are bigger than him, and Lennie is no exception. Curley comes in looking for his father, the boss, and like his father he is suspicious of silent Lennie. Curley becomes angry, and tells Lennie that next time he better speak when he is asked a question.
George is worried that Curley will mess with Lennie. Candy confirms George's fears when he says:
"Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He's alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he's mad at 'em because he ain't a big guy." Chapter 2, pg. 26.
Candy has a bit of gossip for George-the glove Curley wears on his left hand is full of Vaseline, to keep it soft for his wife. George is disgusted, and this response makes Candy feel more comfortable with George. Candy tells George that Curley's wife is pretty, but that she's too flirtatious, always giving men "the eye."
The men can hear Curley yelling outside for the stable buck. George tells Lennie to make sure he stays away from Curley, because any guy who doesn't like big guys is sure not to like him. George is reminding Lennie where to go if there's trouble when Curley's wife walks into the bunkhouse. She is wearing a dress that shows her legs, and her lips and nails are red. She says she is looking for Curley. The other men avoid her eyes, but Lennie stares with fascination at this beautiful woman. When she leaves Lennie mentions how pretty she is, and George (remembering Weed) yells at him to stay away from her. Having two people to steer clear of is too much for Lennie, who becomes frightened and upset. He asks George if they can leave. But they still have money to raise for their farm, so they must stay and work.
Carlson and Slim come into the bunkhouse. Slim is a quiet and powerful presence, and the best worker on the ranch. Carlson is another worker. Slim's dog just had her puppies last night, and Carlson suggests Candy take one of Slim's pups and get rid of his smelly old sheepdog. But the dinner bell rings and the men head out, with George promising to ask Slim for a pup for Lennie. As the two are leaving Curley comes in again, this time looking for his wife. He eyes Lennie and George suspiciously, but lets them leave. A moment later, Candy's sheepdog struggles in, and she is the only one there when Curley returns a moment later, still looking for something.