It’s the end of the day and George and Slim are back in the bunkhouse. We learn that Slim has given one of the pups to Lennie. George tries to explain to Slim that Lennie is “dumb as hell” but that he isn’t cruel or mean.
Slim says that the friendship between George and Lennie is a welcome change in a world where no one “seems to give a damn about nobody.” George tells Slim how he and Lennie became friends and he also admits to the times when he played mean tricks on Lennie for laughs. One of these examples in when George told Lennie to jump into a river even though he knew Lennie couldn’t swim. When George went in to save him, Lennie thanked him for saving him, forgetting that it was George who told him to jump in in the first place.
George, embarrassed by his behaviour, vowed to be a better friend to Lennie. He confides in Slim about what happened in Weed, when Lennie wanted to touch the fabric of a girl’s red dress. When she pulled away, Lennie got frightened and grabbed her and George had to ‘sock’ Lennie to make him let go. The girl then accused Lennie of rape and they were chased out of town.
Lennie comes into the bunkhouse with the puppy under his coat, even though he was warned about taking the pup away from its mother. When Lennie goes to leave it back, Candy and Carlson enter with Carlson criticising Candy for allowing his old dog to keep living even though it was half-blind and “no good to himself.” Candy doesn’t want to shoot the dog as he has had since it was a pup. Carlson offers to shoot the dog for Candy and despite not wanting to kill the dog, Candy is forced to give in. Candy lays down on his bunk and faces the wall as the other men sit down to play cards.
The author builds the tension in this section by having the characters waiting on a gun shot as they play cards. Poor Candy is sitting waiting on the sound of the gun shot and it is very tense in the bunkhouse. Eventually a shot rings out and Candy turns to face the wall, obviously in a state of mourning. There is little sympathy shown towards Candy and again the attitudes and values of the characters are apparent in this scene.
Curley appears again looking for his wife and when he learns that Slim is in the barn he goes off in search of his wife and Slim, who he is convinced is having an affair with his wife. He storms off followed by the other men who hope to see a fight.
Lennie and George, believing that they are alone discuss their dream to buy the farm. As George talks, he doesn’t realise Candy is listening and Candy eventually stops him to ask if such a place really exists. When George tells Candy that he knows of a place for sale, Candy offers to give George and Lennie his savings and compensation from losing his arm if they would allow him to stay and work on the farm. When the men learn that Candy has enough money for half the farm, they are convinced that they will have enough by the end of the month to make an offer. The dream has started to become a reality and the men are giddy with excitement as the other men re-enter the bunkhouse. They agree not to tell anyone else and Candy confides in George that he should have shot the dog himself instead of letting a stranger like Carlson do it.
Curley follows Slim back into the barn apologising for accusing him in the wrong. The men are all laughing at Curley as he is clearly scared of Slim and as he looks around the room, he sees Lennie, who is still in a trance thinking about the rabbits and smiling. Curley, seeing Lennie smile thinks that Lennie is making fun of him. He attacks Lennie, who does nothing to defend himself. Despite several punches to the face and stomach Lennie doesn’t react. (which shows his innocent nature) It is only when George shouts ‘get ‘im Lennie,’ that the big man decides to fight back.
As Curley throws another punch, Lennie grabs his hand and breaks it with ease. He continues holding on as Curley’s hand is smashed to pieces. As Curley lies on the floor in agony, Lennie is distraught as he is worried that he’ll no longer be allowed to ‘tend the rabbits.’ Slim warns Curley that he better not get George or Lennie fired or he’ll be the laughing stock of the ranch.
- Why is Slim impressed by the fact that George and Lennie travel together?
- How do you feel when Candy’s dog is taken away to be killed? Do you agree that this was the right think to do? Explain your answer.
- How does the writer build tension in the scene before the dog is shot?
- Why do you think Candy regretted getting Carlson to shoot the dog instead of shooting the dog himself?
- Why does Candy want to join George and Lennie on their farm?
- How did you feel when Lennie crushed Curley’s hand? Explain your answer.
- Imagine you are Candy, write the diary entry you would write that night.