The Occupant of the Barn: Crooks in Of Mice and Men

In John Steinbeck’s classic novella “Of Mice and Men,” one of the notable characters who resides in the barn on the ranch is Crooks. Crooks’ living situation in the barn is not a matter of choice but rather a consequence of racial segregation. This article delves into Crooks’ role on the ranch, his living conditions, and the discrimination he faces based on his race.

Crooks: The Stable Buck

Crooks, known as the stable buck, holds the responsibility of taking care of the horses on the ranch. Despite his segregated living arrangements, Crooks diligently carries out his duties, demonstrating his commitment and expertise in horse care.

The Barn: Crooks’ Living Quarters

Crooks’ room in the barn is described as a meticulously organized space, reflecting his sense of self-respect and dignity. It serves as a source of pride for Crooks, highlighting his desire to maintain order and normalcy within the confines of his isolated living quarters.

Personal Belongings and Identity

Within his room, Crooks keeps various personal belongings. These items include shoes, a clock, a shotgun, a dictionary, a book of the California legal code, magazines, dirty books, and a pair of spectacles. The presence of these possessions showcases Crooks’ longing for intellectual engagement and personal enjoyment, emphasizing his individuality and his efforts to create a sense of comfort and familiarity in his secluded space.

Racial Discrimination and Exclusion

Crooks’ experience of racial discrimination is a central theme in the novella. Being the only black man on the ranch, he is denied access to the bunkhouse and is subjected to isolation and exclusion. The racial prejudice he endures is exemplified by an incident where Curley’s wife threatens him, highlighting the power dynamics and inequality prevalent in the society depicted in the story.

Loneliness and the Dream Farm

Crooks’ longing for connection and security is evident in his desire to be part of George and Lennie’s dream farm. Like the other characters, he yearns for a place where he can be independent and find stability. His willingness to work for free demonstrates his desperation to escape the uncertainty of his current circumstances. Crooks’ vulnerability and loneliness serve as poignant reminders of the human need for companionship and a sense of belonging.

Pride and Dignity

Despite the challenges he faces, Crooks exhibits great pride and dignity. He refuses to accept charity, emphasizing his desire to maintain self-reliance and independence. Additionally, Crooks demonstrates resilience and strength when he stands up for himself against Curley’s wife, highlighting his determination to preserve his self-worth in the face of adversity.


In the world of “Of Mice and Men,” Crooks, the occupant of the barn, represents an individual marginalized by racial segregation. His role as the stable buck, his meticulously organized living quarters, and his experience of discrimination and isolation make him a compelling character in Steinbeck’s narrative. Crooks’ longing for connection, his pride and dignity, and his dream of a better future contribute to the exploration of themes such as loneliness, discrimination, and the human need for belonging.


Who lives in the barn at the ranch in “Of Mice and Men?”

Answer: Crooks, the stable buck, lives in the barn on the ranch.

Why does Crooks live in the barn?

Answer: Crooks lives in the barn because he is black, and the ranch is segregated, leading to his exclusion from the bunkhouse where the white ranch hands reside.

What is Crooks’ role on the ranch?

Answer: Crooks is responsible for taking care of the horses on the ranch as the stable buck.

How is Crooks’ room in the barn described?

Answer: Crooks’ room in the barn is described as a neat and organized space, reflecting his sense of self-respect and pride.

What personal belongings does Crooks have in his room?

Answer: Crooks’ room contains personal belongings such as shoes, a clock, a shotgun, a dictionary, a book of the California legal code, magazines, dirty books, and a pair of spectacles.

Why is Crooks not allowed in the bunkhouse with the white ranch hands?

Answer: Crooks is not allowed in the bunkhouse due to racial segregation and discrimination based on his race.

How does Crooks experience discrimination based on his race?

Answer: Crooks experiences discrimination based on his race through being segregated from the white ranch hands, facing isolation, and enduring threats and mistreatment, such as when Curley’s wife threatens him with violence.

How do Crooks’ feelings of loneliness and insecurity manifest in the story?

Answer: Crooks’ loneliness and insecurity are evident in his longing to be part of George and Lennie’s dream farm, seeking connection and stability. His vulnerability and desire for companionship highlight the universal need for belonging.