Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men Chapter 4 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph) Though Steinbeck did not originally include chapter numbers with the text, most editions are broken into six sections, based on day and time of day: Thursday evening = Chapter 1; Friday day = Chapter 2; Friday evening = Chapter 3; Saturday night = Chapter 4; Sunday afternoon = Chapter 5; Sunday evening = Chapter 6.
"Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny."
Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego—nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, "Yes, ma'am," and his voice was toneless. (4.120-121)
Notice that Curley's wife doesn't threaten to lynch Crooks; she threatens to "get" him lynched. She has to do all her violence by proxy—and in the world of this novel, that makes her weak and despicable.
Candy said, "That bitch didn't ought to of said that to you."
"It wasn't nothing," Crooks said dully. "You guys comin' in an' settin' made me forget. What she says is true." (4.136-137)
Turns out, there's a little spark left in Crooks, too. He has a vision of America where he can retain a little dignity working for Candy, Lennie, and George—but Curley's wife is happy to step all over his little American Dream, even though hers is just as unattainable.
"Awright," she said contemptuously. "Awright, cover 'im up if ya wanta. Whatta I care? You bindle bums think you're so damn good. Whatta ya think I am, a kid? I tell ya I could of went with shows. Not jus' one, neither. An' a guy tol' me he could put me in pitchers…" She was breathless with indignation. "—Sat'iday night. Ever'body out doin' som'pin'. Ever'body! An' what am I doin'? Standin' here talkin' to a bunch of bindle stiffs—a nigger an' a dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep—an' likin' it because they ain't nobody else." (4.102-103)
If you think the ranchhands aren't free, imagine Curley's wife: she can't even pick up and move onto a new job when she gets sick of the old one. She's stuck with Curley for the rest of her (short) life. No wonder she flirts with Lennie.