Of Mice and Men Chapter 5
It is Sunday afternoon, and bright sun falls into the barn. Hay forms large mounds, and horses' heads peek out of the stables. It is quiet inside the barn; outside is the clang of horseshoes. The men are having a horseshoe tournament, and Lennie is alone inside.
Lennie sits in the hay and strokes his dead puppy. He accidentally hit it, killing it. Lennie doesn't understand why the puppy got killed, since it is so much bigger than a mouse. His thoughts turn now from the puppy to the rabbits, and Lennie is afraid that George won't let him tend them since he killed the puppy. Lennie tries to hide it, thinking he can tell George he found it dead. But Lennie knows George can't be fooled. He grows angry now, and throws the puppy across the barn.
Horseshoes clang and the men yell outside. Lennie walks over to his dead puppy and picks it up. Instead of getting mad at the puppy, this time Lennie blames himself for not listening when the others told him the pup was too small for so much handling. Still petting the dead puppy, he thinks hopefully that maybe George won't care about it, and he'll get to tend the rabbits after all.
Quietly Curley's wife enters the barn and walks up to Lennie. She is wearing her bright dress and her red shoes trimmed with ostrich feathers. Her face is made up, and her hair is perfectly curled. Lennie is startled when he sees her and rushes to hide his puppy. She asks him what he's hiding. Lennie simply tells her George said he isn't supposed to talk to her. Curley's wife thinks George must be scared Curley will get mad at him. She tells Lennie she knows he broke Curley's hand, but Lennie does not say anything, except that he isn't supposed to talk to her. Curley's wife grows angry at all these rejections, and says:
"Why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely." Chapter 5, pg. 86
Lennie responds by telling her again that he isn't supposed to talk to her. She expresses again how lonely she is with only Curley to talk to, but Lennie is still cautious.
Curley's wife changes the subject, and asks Lennie what he has hidden in the hay. Lennie moves the hay and tells her it's his pup. She sees that its dead and Lennie tells her what happened: he thought the pup was going to bite him, so he pretended to hit it, and then he did hit it, accidentally killing it. Curley's wife is comforting. But Lennie is still worried he won't get to
tend the rabbits. Her own needs on her mind, Curley's wife again reassures Lennie it's okay to talk to her, prompting him to repeat his phrase about how he isn't supposed to talk to her. She gets angry that she doesn't have anyone. Living on the ranch, there is no one she can talk to but Curley, and she doesn't even like him. Wistfully, she tells Lennie how she could have had a better life. There was a man she knew who wanted to put her in shows. He promised to write her when he got back to Hollywood, but she never got the letter. She thought her mom stole it, and to get away from her she married Curley. Unhappy with Curley and her life at the ranch, she still thinks about what she could have had if she had gone to Hollywood.
Lennie, thinking out loud, wonders again if George will let him tend the rabbits. This prompts Curley's wife to ask him why he likes rabbits so much. Lennie carefully answers that he likes to pet soft things. Curley's wife identifies, since everybody likes to touch soft things. Her own hair is very soft, and she offers to let Lennie touch it to feel how soft it is. Lennie starts to stroke it, then presses harder, and she tells him to stop or he'll mess it up. Lennie holds on tighter as she yells for him to let go. He covers her mouth, in a panic. He tells her not to yell, or George won't let him tend the rabbits. She continues to struggle, and Lennie shakes her, telling her to stop yelling. Curley's wife stops moving then, since Lennie has broken her neck.
Lennie lays her down in the hay, telling her he didn't want to hurt her. When she doesn't move, Lennie realizes she is dead. Confused and then terrified, he covers her with hay. Realizing he has done something bad, he remembers George's instruction to go hide by the river. He takes his puppy with him and leaves quietly.
It is quiet inside the barn, though the men can be heard outside. A shepherd dog walks by and bristles at the dead body of Curley's wife. She lies unmoving in the hay, and looks peaceful. Time seems to move very slowly.
Candy comes in, looking for Lennie. He sees Curley's wife, and assumes she's sleeping. When he realizes his error, he immediately runs to get George. They return to the barn, and George looks at her, hopeless. He knows it was Lennie, just as he had always feared this
would happen. George asks Candy to wait a few minutes before telling the others. He wants time to go into the bunkhouse so it'll look like he had nothing to do with it. Candy cautiously asks George if they can still get their farm. George is silent, then says:
"-I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would." Chapter 5, pg. 94.
All their dreams disappeared the moment Lennie snapped Curly's wife's neck. George's only hope now is that maybe they won't want to hurt Lennie.
George leaves the barn and Candy waits a few minutes before going outside. He speaks angrily to the corpse, as he thinks about everything that could have been. With tears in his eyes he leaves the barn to tell the guys.
The men come in and stand over Curley's wife. Slim quietly feels her twisted neck, and Curley explodes with anger. He knows it was Lennie, and he plans to shoot him for it. Carlson runs to the barn for his gun. In the face of all this blood lust, George tells them Lennie probably headed south, and asks if they could just lock Lennie up. Slim reminds George that jail would be no good for Lennie.
Carlson comes running in-his gun has been stolen. Thinking Lennie stole it, the men become even more intent on killing Lennie. Curley tells George he better come with them, to prove he's innocent. George tries again to keep them from shooting Lennie, but to no avail. Everyone heads out, except Candy, who lies down in the hay, hiding his face behind ??