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The stable buck went on dreamily, "I remember when I was little kid on my old man's chicken ranch. Had two brothers. They was always near me, always there. Used to sleep right in the same room, right in the same bed—all three. Had a strawberry patch. Had an alfalfa patch. Used to turn the chickens out in the alfalfa on a sunny morning. My brothers'd set on a fence rail an' watch 'em—white chickens they was." (4.58)
Talk about an innocent childhood. Crooks's memories involve tumbling around with his brothers, tending strawberries, and watching chickens. What, no Call of Duty?
Lennie smiled helplessly in an attempt to make friends.
Crooks said sharply, "You got no right to come in my room. This here's my room. Nobody got any right in here but me." (4.7-8)
It's hard to pick the most pathetic character in Of Mice and Men, but Crooks comes close. Isolated because of his skin color, he's been alone for so long he doesn't even want to make a friend.
"I was born right here in Southern California. My old man had a chicken ranch, ‘bout ten acres. The white kids come to play at our place, an’ sometimes I went to play with them, and some of them was pretty nice. My ‘ol man didn’t like that. I never knew till long later why he didn’t like that. But I know now." He hesitated, and when he spoke again his voice was softer. "There wasn’t another colored family for miles around. And now there ain’t a colored man on this ranch an’ there’s jus’ one family in Soledad." (4.37)
At least Crooks has an excuse to be isolated: he's black, which makes him an automatic outcast. Even if we wanted to reach out and touch someone, he wouldn't be able to. You'd think that things like skin color would matter less on a ranch in the middle of nowhere—but somehow they seem to matter more.