Of Mice and Men Chapter 3: Summary & Quotes

Of Mice and Men Chapter 3: Summary & Quotes
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  • 0:03 Lennie's Story
  • 1:25 Candy's Dog
  • 2:18 The Fight
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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.

This lesson will summarize chapter three of John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men,' exploring the story that George tells Slim about Lennie's past as well as the major events of Curley and Lennie's fight and Candy's dog's death.

Lennie's Story

As chapter three begins, we find George and Slim in the bunkhouse, discussing Lennie and the new puppy that Slim has given him. Lennie now spends most of his time in the barn petting the puppy. George and Slim are comfortable around each other, so George tells Slim about Lennie's past.

George says he knew Lennie's aunt, and after she died, Lennie started following him wherever he went. George explains that he let Lennie do this because he enjoyed playing tricks on Lennie, but stopped doing this after he told him to go jump into the Sacramento River -- and Lennie listened. George says, 'Couldn't swim a stroke. He damn near drowned before we could get him. An' he was so damn nice to me for pullin' him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in. Well, I ain't done nothing like that no more.' Slim comments that even though Lennie is not intelligent, it doesn't matter because he is a hard worker and kind.

George also tells Slim about their experience in Weed, and why they were run out of the town. Lennie, liking to pet soft things, petted a girl's dress. When she screamed, he was too scared to let go. George says, 'I socked him over the head with a fence picket to make him let go. He was so scairt he couldn't let go of that dress. And he's so God damn strong, you know.' The girl accused him of rape, so, according to George, they had to run away so Lennie would not be lynched.

Candy's Dog

After George and Slim talk about Lennie's past, Carlson comes into the bunkhouse, again complaining about the odor and uselessness of Candy's dog. He tells Candy, 'He's all stiff with rheumatism. He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good to himself. Why'n't you shoot him, Candy?' At first Candy struggles, saying the dog is not in much pain, and that he cannot imagine not having him. But eventually, he lets Carlson take the dog out to kill him because he does not want to do it himself.

Steinbeck writes, 'Carlson said, 'The way I'd shoot him, he wouldn't feel nothing. I'd put the gun right there.' He pointed with his toe. 'Right back of the head. He wouldn't even quiver.' Steinbeck uses foreshadowing (a warning or hint to a future event) here to show how George will eventually kill Lennie at the end of the novel: in the back of the head so he will not feel it.

The Fight

After Carlson kills Candy's dog, the men just sit around the bunkhouse playing games, with Candy lying sadly and quietly on his bunk. We then meet Crooks briefly: 'The door opened quietly and the stable buck put in his head; a lean negro head, lined with pain, the eyes patient.' Crooks says that Lennie is in the barn petting the puppies too much. Curley comes into the bunkhouse to see if his wife is there, then goes to the barn when he learns Slim is out there repairing his mule's hoof.

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