Of Mice and Men Chapter 3
George thanks Slim for giving Lennie a pup. He expects Lennie will be out in the barn all night petting it. Slim comments on how hard a worker Lennie is, and George reacts proudly, the way a mother might of her child. Slim mentions how odd it is that a smart guy like George travels with a crazy guy like Lennie. His questioning is friendly, though, and George senses an invitation to talk. Defending Lennie, George admits he himself isn't so smart, or he would have his own farm by now. He tells Slim how he and Lennie grew up in the same town. Lennie's parents are never mentioned, only his Aunt Clara who raised him. When she died Lennie just started to come along with George. At first George played tricks on Lennie, because he was so dumb he would do anything he was told, without even thinking about it. And he never held a grudge; he couldn't even realize when someone was mean, nevermind remember it. George and Slim agree that Lennie is a good guy, never mean. But he does get into trouble. George trusts Slim enough to tell him what happened in Weed. Lennie saw a woman in a pretty dress, and because he loves to touch soft things, he started to stroke her dress. The woman, terrified, tried to pull away. But Lennie got confused and held on with all his strength. George had to hit him over the head to get him to let go, and they were run out of town, narrowly avoiding arrest or worse.
Lennie comes into the bunkhouse, attempting to conceal his puppy from George. George isn't fooled now anymore than he was yesterday when Lennie tried to hide his mouse. The puppy is very small and young, so George orders Lennie to go put it back. Slim comments how much Lennie is like a child, and George agrees, except for one thing--Lennie is much stronger.
"He don't give nobody else a chance to win--" Chapter 3, pg. 44.
This comment echoes Candy's description of Curley, who likes to force big guys to fight him, making them look bad whether they win or lose. The difference between these men lies in the fact that Curley has a lot more power than Crooks, the Negro stable buck, and it is therefore an odd comment for Carlson to make.
Full of complaints tonight, Carlson becomes annoyed that Candy's old sheepdog is in the bunkhouse. He thinks the dog makes the bunkhouse smell. He pressures Candy to shoot it, or to let him shoot it. Carlson repeatedly shows Candy where he would shoot, right in the back of the head, so the dog would feel no pain. Candy has had the dog for years and is reluctant to part with his faithful companion, but Carlson and Slim insist that the dog is so old and sick that it is cruel to keep it alive.
Whit, another worker, comes into the bunkhouse offering a distraction from this discussion. He has a pulp magazine that contains a letter written by a former worker, Bill Tenner. The men crowd around to see a fellow worker's words in print. Carlson is not distracted, though, and he continues to press Candy to let him shoot his dog, relieving its pain. Slim and the other men are quiet, and Candy is unable to stand up to Carlson. He lets him take his dog outside to shoot it. The men are mostly silent, waiting for the shot. When it comes, Candy turns away and remains quiet.
Slim heads out to the barn to fix his mule's foot, and George remains to talk to Whit. They talk about Curley's wife, how flirtatious she is and how likely it is she'll cause trouble. Whit suggests George come with them to Susy's place to let off a little steam. Susy runs a brothel where men can come and drink or have sex for a reasonable price. George resists this temptation, and says he might come along, just for a drink, because he doesn't have much to spend.
Lennie and Carlson come back from the barn, and Carlson starts to clean his gun. When the barrel snaps, Candy turns around, smarting at this insensitivity. Then Curley bursts in, asking again if anyone has seen his wife. Slim isn't around and Curley, instantly suspicious, thinks Slim is with his wife. Curley storms off to the barn. Whit is expecting a fight, so he and Carlson head over to the barn. Lennie, George, and Candy stay behind.
George asks Lennie if he saw Curley's wife out in the barn, but he didn't. George complains again about how much trouble Curley's wife is, and states his belief that men should just go to a brothel and get it out of their system. He reminds Lennie about Andy Cushman as proof of the trouble seductive women can cause. Andy was a childhood friend who ended up in prison because of a woman. Lennie isn't interested, though. He asks George how long until they get their place with the rabbits. George tells Lennie again about an idyllic future home-ten acres with orchards, salmon in the river, their own animals to eat-total self-sufficiency. They will have a house with a stove and room for friends, and plenty of space for Lennie's rabbits. Lennie and George are startled when Candy breaks into the conversation. He asks where a place like that is, and how much it costs. Candy reveals to the men he has some money saved up, partly from the accident that severed his hand. He asks George if he could come with them. George thinks carefully before letting another person into their plan, but he agrees. In amazement they realize that with Candy's money, they could be there by the end of the month!
Candy explains to George why he needs a place like theirs:
"You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn't no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody'd shoot me. But they won't do nothing like that. I won't have no place to go, an' I can't get no more jobs." Chapter 3, pg. 60
The three are very excited now at the prospect that in one month they can have their dream. George will write to the people who own the farm and tell them they'll take it.
Slim, Curley, Carlson and Whit come into the bunkhouse. Slim and Curley are arguing. Carlson and Candy each insult Curley and his wife. But what infuriates Curley is when he looks over at Lennie and sees him smiling. Lennie is still happy from the memory of their farm, and has not noticed the commotion in the bunkhouse. But Curley thinks Lennie is laughing at him, thinking him a coward. Defiantly Curley attacks Lennie, slashing at his face as Lennie tries to shield himself. Lennie does not fight back. After repeated urging from George, Lennie takes Curley's hand in his, crushing it. Curley immediately goes pale and the men try to make Lennie to let go. When Lennie does, Curley's hand is hurt badly. George anxiously asks Slim if they'll be fired now. Slim has a plan. He tells Curley that if he doesn't want everyone to laugh at him, he better just say he got his hand caught in a machine. Curley agrees, and is lead away to the hospital.
Slim looks at Lennie, awestruck of his strength. George finds himself defending Lennie again, saying he was scared and confused. Lennie wants to know if he can still tend the rabbits. George reassures him that he didn't do anything wrong, just what he was told to do, and that everything will be okay. He sends Lennie to wash up his bleeding face.