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Free Study Guide-Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck-Free Booknotes
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Chapter 3

Summary

It is evening in the bunkhouse, and George is seen thanking Slim for giving one of his puppies to Lennie. The modest Slim says it was nothing, for he might have wound up killing more of the puppies anyway. Slim then comments that Lennie is a very hard worker and asks about their friendship. George says that they have grown up together, sharing good times. He also tells Slim that Lennie is dumb but not crazy and gives the example of when Lennie jumped into the river without knowing how to swim. Slim listens to George very attentively and adds his own observations about Lennie, saying he is definitely not a mean guy. He then asks George why they had left their previous job. Though hesitant at first, George tells him about the episode when Lennie touched the dress of the young girl, explaining that he was wrongly accused of attempted rape; as a result, they had to run for their lives. When Lennie walks in, George is quick to see that he has a puppy hidden in his shirt. George explains that handling it too much can hurt the puppy and commands him to take it back to the barn; Lennie obeys. The way Lennie behaves makes Slim comment that he is just like a kid. George agrees.

Old Candy walks into the bunkhouse with his old dog and asks for a drink of whisky for his upset stomach. When Carlson arrives, he comments on the stinking smell of the dog in the room. After much conversation in which Candy defends his old dog, Slim and Carlson persuade him to get rid of the dog and promise a new puppy in its place. When Candy agrees, Carlson gets his gun and leads the dog outside into the darkness. A gunshot is heard in the distance, and Old Candy is visibly upset.

When George sits down to play a card game with Whit, Crooks comes in looking for Slim. He complains about Lennie messing around with the pups. George tells Slim to drive Lennie away if he is creating problems. George turns to the card game, but Whit does not seem interested. He talks about Curley’s wife and tells George about their Saturday night jam up at Susy’s place, which has clean chairs and clean girls. George agrees to go with them, but says he will not spend any money on the women. He is saving his money for the farm.


Carlson returns, cleaning his gun, and Lennie is with him. While Whit and Carlson are sharing a joke about Curley’s wife, Curley himself barges into the room, asking the whereabouts of Slim. Curious about what is going on, Whit follows Curley out, leaving Lennie and George together. George inquires about the happenings inside the barn. Lennie assures him that he is not getting into any trouble. Lennie then starts a conversation about their dream, and George describes each and every detail as he sees it.

Listening in on the conversation, Old Candy is interested in their plan and says he will give them his savings, about 300 dollars, if they will let him join them. He does not wanted to be treated like his old dog and promises to do lots of the work. Though George hesitates initially, he accepts Candy’s proposal, for 300 dollars is one-half of the money they need and brings them closer to the fulfillment of their dream.

George decides to send off a down payment on the farm in the amount of one hundred dollars. A clamor outside the room puts an end to their conversation. Slim, Carlson, and Curley enter the room. Slim is quite furious with Curley for wrongly accusing him of talking to his wife. Curley then tries to pick on Carlson, but he also dismisses him blatantly. Candy joins in the fray and laughs at Curley for using a glove full of Vaseline to make his hand soft for his wife.

Unaffected by all the commotion, Lennie smiles as he continues to dream of the farmhouse. Curley misinterprets his smiling and picks a fight with Lennie. Although he hits Lennie repeatedly, Lennie remembers the warnings and does not defend himself against Curley. George is outraged by the situation and encourages Lennie to strike back. Lennie quickly crushes Curley’s right hand and throws him down. When George expresses his fear of losing their jobs, Slim strikes a deal with Curley. He promises not to tell anyone about how Curley is injured if Curley does not tell his dad about the incident. The vain Curley agrees to Slim’s plan before he is taken to he hospital.

Although injured and bleeding himself, Lennie feels guilty about hurting Curley and repeatedly asserts that the whole thing was not his fault. He begs George not to be mad at him and wants to make sure he will still get to go to the farm and tend the rabbits. George is not the least bit angry, only troubled.

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