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How do you think Steinbeck uses the character of Candy as a
whole to convey important ideas about society at that time?
I think that Steinbeck has used the character of Candy using methods such as dialogue, actions and descriptions to
convey several key ideas about society at the time, including ideas about discrimination, racism, attitudes towards
women and themes of loneliness and isolation of ranch workers.
The first idea Steinbeck explores is the harshness of ranch worker's lives at the time. Steinbeck first describes the
harshness of the ranch through his setting of the first scene in which the reader meets Candy. Steinbeck describes the
bunk house as `the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted'. This makes the reader feel that the place is
uncared for, as this is the environment in which Candy spends most of his time, Steinbeck exposes to the reader how
little the ranch owners care for their workers.
Steinbeck describes Candy as `stoop shouldered old man' who has an amputated hand; `out of the sleeve came a
round stick-like wrist, but no hand'. This gives the reader an image of a man who is overworked and implies that the
ranch is a dangerous place to live in. Through these descriptions Steinbeck shows how unfairly ranch workers like
Candy were treated at the time.
Linked in with the idea of harsh environments is the idea of loneliness & isolation which is another theme Steinbeck
explored. Steinbeck shows through Candy's speech `A guy don't never listen nor he don't ast no questions' that ranch
workers isolated themselves from other ranch workers, they never talked to anybody (they made small talk but they
didn't have anyone to talk to openly and properly about problems etc.).
Steinbeck gives Candy a pet dog; through Candy's speech Steinbeck shows that his dog is very important to him
when he says `I had him so long'. The dog is Candy's only companion which is why he's so important to him. In the
bunkhouse, Steinbeck creates a scene where Candy's dog is shot by another character, Carlson. Through the actions
of Candy afterwards; `For a moment he (Candy) continued to stare at the ceiling. Then he rolled slowly over and
faced the wall and lay silent', Steinbeck shows that the shooting of his dog made a huge impact upon Candy, making
him very upset. Steinbeck uses this to explore the idea of how important it was to have a companion and how not
having one, as is the case with many of the men on the ranch, could lead to depression.
In a later scene, Steinbeck explores how important it is to be loyal and to look after your friends through Candy when
Candy says to George `I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog'. Candy is upset that he didn't stick by his
dog but let the other men take over.
Another idea explored by Steinbeck is forms of discrimination at the time. Two key forms explored are discrimination
of the elderly (social) and racial discrimination. Steinbeck conveys important ideas about discrimination through
Candy's dialogue when Candy says `Never did seem right to me. S'pose Curley jumps a big guy an' licks him.
Ever'body says what a game guy Curley is. And s'pose he does the same thing and gets licked. Then ever'body says
the big guy oughtta pick somebody his own size, and maybe they gang up on the big guy. Never did seem right to
me. Seems like Curley ain't givin' nobody a chance.' Of course this speech is about Lennie being the big guy and
Curley being the little guy but the idea applies to any kind of discrimination, in essence the speech says that it doesn't
matter who's right or wrong but that Curley will always win. Curley could represent society or rich people and the
`big guy' could represent poor/disadvantaged ranch workers showing social discrimination through how unfair
society/bosses are as poor ranch workers will always lose. Or Curley could represent white people and the `big guy'
could represent black people showing racial discrimination through how it doesn't matter who's right or wrong,
white people will always win. Steinbeck shows that he doesn't think the discrimination between Curley and Lennie is
fair when Candy says `Never did seem right to me' and as the idea could be applied to all forms of discrimination
Steinbeck is showing the reader that he doesn't think any kinds of discrimination are right.
Steinbeck further explores the two key forms of discrimination at the time. Steinbeck uses the character of Candy to
show how the society at the time didn't look after its elderly; he created Candy as an old man who had no
companions and nobody to look after him. The character says `I won't have no place to go, an' I can't get no more
jobs.' Steinbeck uses Candy to show that society didn't care for its elderly and would just kick them out once they
were no longer fit enough to do work. Steinbeck might have wanted to encourage the reader to sympathise for
Candy to show that society needs to look after the elderly.
Steinbeck also uses the character of Candy to show that society, at that time, is full of racial discrimination but that it
should change. Early on in the book Candy calls Crooks `the nigger' but says that he's a `nice fella'. Steinbeck uses
Candy to show that white people admit that black people are nice, not horrible, but shows that at the time there is
still a lot of prejudice and racism. In a later scene however in Crooks's room, Steinbeck creates an event in which
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Candy sticks up for Crooks and says `That bitch didn't ought to of said that you' showing that Steinbeck thinks that
white people shouldn't be unfair on black people as they are human beings too.
Steinbeck also uses Candy to show attitudes towards women in society at the time. Steinbeck attributes Candy with a
profound dislike of Curley's wife, the only woman on the ranch.…read more