Lennie is in the barn panicking because he has killed his new puppy. It is a Sunday and the men are playing horse shoes in the yard. Lennie talks to the dead puppy and asks why he had to die. He thinks about what he has done and says that it isn’t bad enough that he has to run to the brush, like George told him in Section One.
Continuing to talk to the puppy, he says that maybe he won’t get to ‘tend the rabbits,’ but thinks maybe George won’t care about the puppy. “This here God damn little son-of-a-bitch wasn’t nothing to George.”
As Lennie is talking to the puppy, Curley’s wife comes into the barn. Lennie is flustered but her presence and does his best to hide the dog. He tells her that George says, “I ain’t to have nothing to do with you.” She says that’s because George is scared that Curley will get mad but says that if he does, Lennie can bust his other hand, showing that she knows what happened.
We get a further insight into the life of Curley’s wife when she tells Lennie, “I get lonely…You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad.”
Curley’s wife discovers the dead puppy and Lennie tells her that he was playing with the puppy and the puppy was going to bite him so he pretended he was going to smack it but he actually hit him and killed him. Curley’s wife tells him not to worry as it’s only a pup.
Curley’s wife re-tells the story of how she could have been in the movies and how a guy told her he would write to her as soon as he got back to Hollywood but that she never got the letter. She blamed her mother for keeping the letter and that’s why she ran off to marry Curley.
Lennie explains why he likes rabbits so much and tells her that he likes to pet mice things with his fingers. She asks Lennie if he likes velvet and he says that he loves velvet and that he used to have some that his Aunt Clara gave him but that he lost it. After telling this story Curley’s wife laughs at him and says that he’s nuts but, “jus like a big baby.”
She tells him that she loves to stroke her hair because it’s so soft and she takes Lennie’s hand and gets him to see how soft her hair is. Lennie is enthralled by the feeling of the hair and starts to stroke it harder, at which point Curley’s wife warns him, “you stop it now, you’ll mess it all up.” She jerked her head away to try to get away from Lennie but Lennie hangs on to her hair, which causes her to roar let go.
Lennie begins to panic, which causes Curely’s wife to scream, which makes Lennie panic even more. Lennie in an attempt to keep her from shouting puts his hand across her nose and mouth and says, “Oh! Please don’t do that. George’ll be mad.”
Curley’s wife continues to try to get free but the more she fights, the angrier Lennie becomes. As she continues to yell, Lennie shakes her while roaring at her, “don’t you go yellin’.” As he continues to shake her, her body “flopped like a fish. And then she was still for Lennie had broken her neck.”
When Lennie realises what he has done, he says, “I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing.” Thinking that it would help the situation, Lennie hides the puppy under his coat and leaves the barn.
It is some time before Candy comes into the barn looking for Lennie and it is Candy who discovers the dead body in the barn. Candy goes to get George and it is clear that they know what has happened. They discuss what to do, with Candy telling George to let Lennie disappear as “Curley’ll get ‘im killed.” Candy asks George if they can still get the little farm and George doesn’t answer but Candy, “dropped his head and looked down at the hay. He knew.” George tells Candy that he always knew that the dream would never come true.
They come up with a plan, which ensures that George is not under suspicion for the murder, with George going to the bunkhouse and Candy going to alert the others. As soon as they come in, they see what is wrong and Curley reacts with anger, saying he knows who did it. “That big son-of-a-bitch done it…I’m gonna get him….I’ll kill the big son-of-a-bitch myself.” We should note her that Curley shows no sign of emotion for his wife, merely anger that someone has taken a possession of his.
George has come into the barn and Slim asks him where he would have went and George tells him that he would have went south as they came from the north, sending the men in the opposite direction.
Carlson announces that someone has taken his gun and it is believed that Lennie must have stolen it. Curley wants George to go with him as he thinks he might be trying to help Lennie. Candy is left in the barn as the men go in search of Lennie with Curley adamant that he is going to kill him. I’m gonna shoot the guts outta that big bastard myself even if I only got one hand.”
- Were you surprised that Lennie had killed the puppy? Explain your answer.
- What did you learn about Curley’s wife’s life in this section? Does this change your opinion of her?
- Describe what happens between Lennie and Curley’s wife before she dies.
- How did you feel when you realised that Lennie had killed Curley’s wife?
- Were there clues from the author that this was likely to happen? Explain your answer.
- How does Curley react upon seeing his dead wife? Does his reaction surprise you in any way?
- Do you think Lennie has stolen Carlson’s gun? What do you think has happened the gun?