Crooks is the only black man on the ranch and experiences a significant amount of racism and discrimination. He is lonely and isolated, making him resentful and bitter towards the other characters, as seen when he tries to torment Lennie about George abandoning him.
Crooks is briefly won over by Lennie’s friendliness and enjoys having someone to talk to, even feeling some hope that he could be involved in the dream of the farm. However, Curley’s wife reminds him of the prejudice against him, making him return to his protective shell and dismiss the idea of the dream altogether.
Crooks takes pleasure in mentally hurting Lennie because he has been hurt by so many people before.
Crooks’ face lighted with pleasure at the torture.
Crooks clearly enjoys tormenting Lennie (by suggesting that George will abandon him). His cruelty towards Lennie, who is very innocent and has been nice to Crooks, can make the reader see him as an unpleasant character. However, when Crooks goes on to talk about the racism he has experienced, it becomes more understandable why he behaves in this way.
The racism directed towards Crooks is very obvious and not hidden by the other characters on the ranch.
This is just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean nothing, see?
Racial slurs are used to describe Crooks frequently on the ranch. Crooks uses the language of the white men to describe himself, to show that he is aware of how little he is respected and how no thought is shown for his feelings. No one on the ranch is interested in anything that Crooks has to say and he is fully aware of this.
As the only black man on the ranch, Crooks is completely isolated from the others and does not receive any companionship.
A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.
While the rest of the men share a bunkhouse, so are able to speak to each other and at least experience some elements of friendship at times, Crooks is made to sleep on his own in the stable.