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Of Mice and Men Chapter 2: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

In this lesson, we look at chapter two of Of Mice and Men. In chapter two, we travel with George and Lennie to a new job. Here we meet most of the characters in the novel. Chapter two also heavily foreshadows a tragic ending.

The Bunkhouse

In chapter two, we travel with George Milton and Lennie Small to their new job at the ranch. They go to the bunkhouse where they will live and spend most of their time in throughout the novel. In this chapter, we meet most of the characters that George and Lennie interact with for the rest of the story. We first meet Candy, an elderly swamper, in the bunkhouse when he shows George and Lennie to their bunks. As our main characters talk to Candy, finding out that their new boss is upset they did not come to work the day before like they were supposed to, their boss comes in. Lennie mostly stays quiet, like George commanded him in the previous chapter, though he repeats George saying that he is 'strong as a bull'. George explains to the boss that Lennie is not very smart, but he is incredibly strong and a great worker.

Trouble on the Ranch

Once the boss leaves, George reprimands Lennie for speaking when he was not supposed to, claiming the boss is suspicious of them now. Later, the boss' son, Curley, comes into the bunkhouse and meets the two new hires. Curley, unlike his father, finds Lennie's silence unacceptable and warns Lennie to speak when spoken to. After Curley leaves, George asks Candy, 'Say, what the hell's he got on his shoulder? Lennie didn't do nothing to him.' Candy explains that Curley used to be a light-weight boxer and does not like large men, like Lennie. He says it has gotten even worse since Curley got married two weeks before because his wife 'got the eye'.

George is sure to warn Lennie to stay away from Curley, who he knows will try to start a fight, but says if Curley punches Lennie, to 'let 'im have it'. He also reminds Lennie to wait for him at the brush if he should get into any trouble, which is the second time we are given the same foreshadowing of Lennie getting into trouble.

Curley's wife stops by the bunkhouse as well, looking for Curley. George realizes that Lennie is entranced by Curley's wife's beauty, continuously saying, 'she's purty'. He warns Lennie not to talk to the woman because it will give Curley a reason to be upset with him. Ending our introduction to these two troublesome characters, Curley and his wife, John Steinbeck writes, 'Lennie cried out suddenly--'I don't like this place, George. This ain't no good place. I wanna get outa here.' This hints to the reader that there is something bad about this ranch and that if George and Lennie stay, there will be dire consequences.

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