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The next morning, George and Lennie reach the ranch around ten o’clock. They go to the bunkhouse, a long rectangular room filled with beds and shelves made of apples boxes. The room also has a table for playing cards. An old ranch hand assures George that the boss is a nice man and that the place is very clean, in spite of the insect repellent that George spies on his bed.
The boss enters the room and inquires of George the reason for being a day late to work. George explains that they had to walk a long way. When the boss asks for their names, George tells him both names and explains that Lennie is a slow thinker but a strong, hard worker. He also says that Lennie is his cousin, who he has watched after for a long time at his aunt’s request.
After the boss leaves, George reminds Lennie once again about behaving correctly and not talking needlessly to the other ranch hands or to the boss. Candy, an old cripple who does some of the small chores on the ranch, overhears their conversation. When George confronts him, Candy denies hearing a word. Curley, the boss’s son, interrupts them; he has come looking for his father. When he spies Lennie, he begins asking him questions. George always answers for Lennie, which angers Curley. He rudely demands that Lennie answer him directly in the future.
When Curley leaves, Candy tells George that the young man used to be a lightweight boxer and picks fights with everybody, especially men that are bigger than he. As a forewarning, George proclaims that Curley had better not attempt a fight with Lennie. Candy then tells George about Curley’s new wife. He describes her as a flirtatious woman who has eyes for every man on the ranch. After Candy leaves, George warns Lennie about Curley and tells him not to lose his temper around him, no matter what happens. He also reminds Lennie of the hiding place by the stream.
Curley’s wife enters, looking for her husband, and stays, flirting with George, even after she is told that Curley has gone. Lennie, staring at her, outwardly shows he is impressed with her beauty. After she leaves, George tells him he must not stare at her again and warns Lennie that any contact with the lady will cause a direct confrontation with Curley. Lennie is scared and upset. He wants to leave the ranch and says that “this ain’t no good place. . .it’s mean here.” George reminds him that they must earn some money if they are ever to have their own farm. Lennie understands and agrees. Ironically, their staying on the ranch destroys the dream. For once, George should have paid attention to Lennie’s intuition.
Slim, a ranch hand that commands respect, comes into the bunkhouse for lunch and strikes up a conversation in a friendly tone. He asks George and Lennie to become part of his team. Carlson, another ranch hand, walks in and talks about Slim’s dog having a new litter of pups. They decide to give one of the puppies to Candy to replace his old, blind, and stinking mutt. When Candy and Carlson leave, George promises to ask for one of the puppies for Lennie. He instinctively knows that his friend wants one for a pet.
Curley comes in again, looking for his wife. When he leaves the room, George has a premonition that Curley will cause problems.