Chapter 2 is an important chapter as we meet most of the characters during this single chapter, including Candy,Curley,Curley’s wife, Slim and Carlson. It begins with George and Lennie being shown around the bunk house by named Candy. Candy is an old handyman who lost his hand in a ranch accident and is kept on the payroll. Although called Candy he is often referred to as Sometimes called ‘the swamper’.
Candy later tells the duo about ‘the boss’ and how he abuses ‘the stable buck’ when he’s angry, the stable buck is African American. The stable buck has his own room in the barn, and he has a crooked back (aiming to reflect social standards and racial injustice).
For the first time we are introduced to ‘the boss’, the boss is Curley’s father and is always well dressed. He is never named and appears only once but seems to be a fair-minded man. He enters the room to interview George and Lennie. The duo needed to make a generic excuse as to why they were a day late, so George, says the bus driver dropped them off in the wrong place.
The boss wants Lennie to speak, as he is suspicious of George is stealing Lennie’s pay. George lies and says that Lennie is his cousin who was kicked in the head by a horse when he was young in order to explain Lennie’s lack of intelligence, Lennie doesn’t understand the lies but remains silent. The boss hires them.
Later in the chapter, as key character is introduced, as upon Candy’s return with his very old dog. We meet the boss’s aggressive son Curley. He takes offense and becomes agitated at Lennie not answering his questions, George warns Lennie to stay away from Curley. Candy later explains that Curley is a boxer, so he’s always trying to pick fights with big guys, like Lennie. We learn Curley lives in his dad’s house with his new wife (who isn’t named).
A page or two later we meet a flirtatious young girl, who we learn is Curley’s wife. Next, we see an odd character dynamic as upon Slim’s entry, she leaves. Lennie begins to get a bad feeling about working here. Slim is a compassionate and insightful man; he is the leader of the mule team whom everyone respects. Slim becomes a powerful ally to George and later helps protect Lennie, as he crucially understands George and Lennie’s situation.
Following this we are introduced to the final new character of this chapter, Carlson. Carlson is an insensitive ranch hand who also works with the other characters. He enquires with Slim over the puppies that his dog had the previous night. Carlson suggests that they give a puppy to Candy so that he can shoot his current dog due it’s age and smell (foreshadowing Carlson shooting the dog).
Of Mice and Men is centred around two ranch workers, George and Lennie. The story is based in California in the 1930s as they start work on a ranch in a place called ‘Soledad’ (a Spanish word meaning ‘solitude’). The entire story takes place over a period of just four days, starting on a Thursday evening and ending on the Sunday. Throughout this time George and Lennie meet other characters, who emphasise the isolation and difficulty of life for the people working and in these places.
George is a small, intelligent man who looks after his friend Lennie, a large, strong man who has a learning disability. Lennie’s disability and failure to understand his strength prove to be a huge problem. The constant theme throughout the story, is the two men discussing their dream of owning their own ranch and working for themselves, however by the end of the book Lennie has accidentally killed a woman and George’s only option is to shoot him before he is caught, which as a result ends their dream.
This brief novel touches upon many important societal issues, including the plight of the migrant workers during the Great Depression, racism and sexism during that time as well as the lack of care or facilities for the disabled.