The next day the narration continues as the men are shown to their new bunk house of the farm by a swamper named Candy. Candy is old and frail and has only one arm. Candy has a dog who is also very old and almost blind.
Candy tells the men that the boss was ‘sore as hell’ that they weren’t there to go out with the grain team in the morning. George isn’t happy when he sees a can of lice powder on his bunk but is told that the man who was there before was very clean.
The boss arrives and starts to question George and Lennie. Lennie, remembering that he must stay quiet, lets George answer, which makes the boss suspicious about George. He asks George, “what you sellin’?” He is doubting that one man could take care of another man unless he was making money out of it, highlighting the way in which people were treated at this time. When Lennie begins to speak, George is forced to make up a story that he is related to Lennie and that he was kicked in the head by a horse when he was a kid. The boss tells George that he has his eye on him and that he better not try to pull any stunts.
When the boss leaves, his son appears shortly after. His name is Curley and he immediately tightens his body when he sees Lennie. When George answers for Lennie, who doesn’t know what to do, Curley shouts at George to ‘let the big guy talk.’ We can see that Curley is a mean type of character from his interaction with Lennie and when he leaves Candy tells the men that Curley is a good boxer who likes to pick on big guys, because ‘he’s mad at ’em because he ain’t a big guy.”
George tells Candy that Curley better not mess with Lennie because Lennie “don’t know no rules.” Candy is sceptical of this and says that Curley is pretty handy and that he seems worse lately because of his marriage to a ‘tart,’ who enjoys flirting with the other workers, which annoys Curley.
George tells Lennie to stay away from Curley, who he says could cost them their jobs. At that moment, Curley’s wife, who wears a lot of make-up and has a nasal voice appears. She is looking for her husband but acts in a flirtatious manner with the men in the bunkhouse. She is told that Curley has gone into the house and she leaves.
Lennie is infatuated with the woman and when she leaves he says that she is ‘real purty,’ which enrages George who tells him to stay away from that ‘bitch,’ who he is says is nothing but ‘jail bait.’ Lennie gets scared and he says that he wants to leave the ranch as he doesn’t feel safe (Foreshadowing) but George tells him that they need to earn some money before they leave.
Slim who is the ranch skinner and probably the most important worker in the ranch comes into the bunkhouse. He talks with George and Lennie and is impressed at how the men travel together. Carlson also enters asking Slim about his new pups and Slim tells him that he had to drown four out of the nine. Carlson tells Slim that he should give a pup to Candy if he agrees to shoot his old dog. The bell rings for dinner and the men leave the barn.
Before George and Lennie leave, Curley re-enters looking for his wife. George tells Lennie that Curley is trouble and that he is scared that he’ll end up in a fight with Curley himself.
Section 2 Questions:
- Why is the boss suspicious of George? What does he think George is doing?
- Why does Candy say that it’s not fair that Curley picks on big guys?
- What is your impression of Curley? PQE
- How does the author create conflict in this section? How does this add to the story?
- How is Curley’s wife introduced by the other characters?
- What have you learned about the attitudes and values of the people in this story? Use examples to back up your points.