Of Mice and Men Chapter 4

Of Mice and Men (1937) chapter 4 is a swift departure from the previous three chapters in one big way: George doesn't appear in most of it. Instead, the chapter focuses on the three most disenfranchised characters: Lennie, who has childlike intelligence; Candy, who is aging and missing a hand; and Crooks, who is Black with a damaged back.

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Table of contents

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4, Content warning, StudySmarter

    Overview - Chapter 4
    Brief Summary of Chapter 4
    • The chapter starts with Crooks, who lives by himself in the stable.
    • Most of the workers have gone to town. Lennie, who was left behind, approaches Crooks' room. He wants to come in to be with the puppies.
    • None of the white characters ever go into Crooks' room. After initial reluctance, Crooks agrees, seeing that Lennie is harmless.
    • Seeing Lennie's mental disability, Crooks poses cruel questions to him, suggesting George may not come back. This works up Lennie, who storms toward Crooks menacingly, telling Crooks that George will come back. Crooks is afraid and walks back what he said.
    • Crooks has suffered at this ranch for years. He isn't allowed to play card games with the others, and he has no friends.
    • Candy shows up, and they three talk about the future farm. Crooks wonders if he can work there, too.
    • Curley's wife comes by. She wants company but ends up calling the three men names. Crooks stands up to her, telling her to leave his room, but she threatens to have him lynched.
    • After Curley's wife leaves, Crooks says he doesn't want to go with Candy, Lennie, and George after all. It seems his interaction with Curley's wife has changed his mind about doing something with white folks.
    Characters in Chapter 4George, Lennie, Crooks, Candy, Curley's Wife
    Setting in Chapter 4A ranch in rural California, Crook's room in the barn
    Style in Chapter 43rd-person narrator
    Literary Devices and Themes in Chapter 4Loneliness, Segregation, Disability

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4 Summary

    Of Mice and Men chapter 4 opens with a description of Crooks' room in the barn. Crooks is an avid reader, wears glasses, and has a hurt back. He is segregated, works in the stables, and lives alone because he is a Black man.

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4, Playing cards, StudySmarterFig. 1 - The workers play a game called "Euchre."

    Lennie pokes his head in. Lennie wants to come in to see the puppies. Crooks and Lennie are two of the few left on the ranch at the moment, as most have gone to town. No one goes in Crooks's room, but Lennie doesn't understand race or this sort of problem. Seeing Lennie is no harm to him, Crooks eventually lets Lennie in.

    For a little while, Lennie and Crooks talk. Lennie talks about his dream of living off the "fatta tha lan'," and how he will raise rabbits. Crooks calls him crazy and tells Lennie that he's seen hundreds like him before. People come by, dream of owning some land, and leave. None of them ever get any. As for Crooks, he grew up on some land with his father. However, since then, he hasn't had much luck, and he's spent years in depression due to racism and a lack of company. Loneliness is making him stir crazy.

    Realizing that Lennie doesn't have the intelligence to stand up to him, Crooks takes out some of his frustrations by asking Lennie what he would do if George never returned. Lennie says this would never happen, but Crooks spitefully tells him that anything can happen. He keeps this up until Lennie storms over to him, telling him it's not true. Thinking that the angry Lennie might hurt him, Crooks says he was only kidding and that George is coming back.

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4, Crooks and Lennie in the Play version of Of Mice and Men, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Crooks and Lennie's conversation highlights the different views of dreams and whether they can be accomplished

    Candy enters the scene. Although he and Crooks have worked together for years, he's never been in his room before. Crooks, enjoying the company now, invites him in. Although embarrassed, Candy does so. Candy tells Crooks about the land the three plan on getting, and Crooks renews his doubt. However, if it all pans out, he wonders if he could help out over there.

    Crooks's friend gathering only lasts a short time, though. Curley's wife comes by, wanting some company. She asks about what happened to her husband, and due to Lennie's lack of brightness, he more or less reveals he's the one who hurt him. Curley's wife thinks that's great and sometimes wishes she could smack him, too. She's sick of hearing how he wants to beat people up. She also flirts with Lennie during their conversation.

    When Candy tells her to head home where she belongs, though, she starts to call the three names. She begins to rant about them and her pent-up life. Candy continuously tells her to leave, then Crooks finally stands up and tells her to get out of his room. Curley's wife tells him she can get him lynched in a second if he talks to her again like that. Crooks goes completely passive and still, sitting on his bed. She leaves.

    Noticeably, Curley and his wife never appear in the same scene together. Curley is always earnestly looking for her, while Curley's wife seems to enjoy evading him.

    George shows back up and tells Lennie to come with him. He doesn't think Lennie should be in this place. Before Candy leaves, a defeated Crooks tells him he's no longer interested in coming to the farm with them.

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4 Analysis

    The dream of George's and Lennie's is on pause in Chapter 4. Instead, the reader learns about Crooks' dreams. Crooks also provides commentary on George and Lennie's dream.

    While few on the ranch have anything resembling a good or easy life, there are three whose lives are the hardest: Candy, Lennie, and Crooks. Steinbeck didn't place these three characters together incidentally, so here's a look at each of them and how they relate to the world around them.

    As you read about Candy, Lennie, and Crooks, think about whether they're in control of their life situations or not.

    Candy is the oldest ranch worker and has a disability, as he is missing a hand. He's past his best days, not unlike his dog that was shot, and he feels weary because of this. At the same time, people don't take him as seriously anymore. He can't back up his stance with physical strength.

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4, Stables, StudySmarterFig. 3 - This entire chapter plays out in the stables.

    While Lennie is very strong, he has the mental aptitude of a child. This makes him enormously easy to exploit and makes him prone to mistakes. Lennie has virtually no ability to put up a fight without George's instruction.

    Crooks's disenfranchisement is the most overt of three. Although Crooks is not from the south and his family owned land, Crooks deals with racism, segregation, and the looming threat of lynching every day of the year. This is also despite Crooks's intelligence and reading skills. No matter how smart or accomplished he is, many white people will not treat him equally. This makes him vengeful, and he takes it out on Lennie until he thinks Lennie might hurt him.

    Then Curley's wife enters. The new dynamic with the wife is even more interesting than the dynamic between the three, because where does Curley's wife fit in?

    Curley's wife is complicated. In some ways, she is disenfranchised like the others. As a married woman, she is expected to stay at home all the time. This is far from fair, and we learn more about her and her dreams later on. However, at the same time, Curley's wife wields immense control over those who can't fend for themselves. Candy is meek and physically weak, so Curley's wife doesn't take him seriously when he asks her to leave. Lennie can hardly converse with Curley's wife.

    Crooks is the only one with the wherewithal to stand up to Curley's wife. When Crooks tells her to leave, though, she becomes truly nasty, calling him the worst things imaginable and threatening to get him lynched. So while Curley's wife doesn't have the autonomy of her husband, she is both well-off and powerful in some situations.

    What do you think of Steinbeck's portrayals of Crooks and Curley's wife? Are they thoughtful or simplistic?

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4 Quotes

    These are both quotes from Crooks. This first one appears early in the chapter when Lennie asks Crooks why he isn't wanted at the bunkhouse:

    They play cards in there, but I can't play because I'm black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me."

    The way the white workers on the ranch treat Crooks sets up the reader to understand why Crooks treats Lennie the way he does. The reader feels empathy towards both of them.

    Follow how the characters exert power and control over others. You quickly begin to see how even those who get pushed around can do the same to other people.

    The following quote appears before Curley's wife appears. He says this to Lennie and Candy, who are discussing their dream of owning land:

    I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. … Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land."

    Crooks says out loud what the reader inferred back in chapter 1: that this story is nothing new. People come along following dreams, and those dreams get shattered. There is no lush, heavenly garden at the end of the road, only another hard, back-breaking job.

    Of Mice and Men Chapter 4 - Key Takeaways

    • In this chapter, Crooks, Lennie, and Candy discuss the prospect of owning land.
    • The appearance of Curley's wife disrupts their reverie and dispels any chance of the group finding common ground.
    • The chapter focuses on the characters with the least amount of control: Crooks, Lennie, Candy, and to some extent Curley's wife.
    • Crooks is intelligent and well-read but suffers from the racism inflicted upon him.
    • Without George, Lennie is helpless against those around him.


    1. Fig. 2 - Of Mice and Men (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Of_Mice_and_Men_img_2365_48135317188_o_(48981713002).jpg) by Ser Amantio di Nicolao (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Ser_Amantio_di_Nicolao) is licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
    Frequently Asked Questions about Of Mice and Men Chapter 4

    What happened in chapter 4 of Of Mice and Men

    In this chapter, Crooks, Lennie, and Candy discuss the prospect of owning land. The appearance of Curley's wife disrupts their reverie and dispels any chance of the group finding common ground. 

    What do we learn about Curley's wife in chapter 4? 

    We learn that she can't stand being in the house and listening to her husband complain and talk about fighting people. 

    What is the last thing Crooks says to Candy? 

    Before Candy leaves, a defeated Crooks tells him he's no longer interested in coming to the farm with them. 

    Which page is Chapter 4 in Of Mice and Men

    This varies by edition. However, it begins about 60% of the way through the novella and ends about 75% of the way through it. 

    How does Chapter 4 of Of Mice and Men end?

    It ends with an aside between Crooks and Candy. Crooks tells Candy he's no longer interested in coming to the farm with them. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Who doesn't appear in most of the chapter?

    Where does Crooks work?

    In what order do the characters appear in chapter 4?


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