Candy - of mice and men

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Candy is used by Steinbeck in the novella of mice and men to portray the voice of the weak ­ but he
is also used by Steinbeck to get across more information to the reader about other characters.
Steinbeck clearly indicates the purpose of Candy through his first words, `the boss was expectin' you
last night,' here we clearly see that Candy's purpose in the novella is to inform the audience of what
is happening however this also reflects one of the Candy's traits ­ he is a gossip. Candy is one of the
only characters who is not talked about by other characters before he enters ­ highlighting his
purpose as he is the source of information for the reader. We get the impression that Candy is more
of permanent fixture on the ranch as he is able to provide George and Lennie with information about
previous ranch workers ­ however this could be Steinbeck's way of expressing that despite seeing
numerous men come and go with the same dream, this does not stop Candy from being roped in
George's and Lennie's dream. This emphasises the magnetic effect that the notion of the American
dream had on people at the time ­ but also suggests the faith that people had in the American dream
- despite the economic downfall at the time. This is highlighted by the description of the setting in
section two ­ `Western magazine Ranch men love to read and scoff at and secretly believe.' The
`secretly believe' again suggests an element of hope in a falling society.
Steinbeck portrays one of the main themes in the novella through Candy of prejudice as he is
described as having `a round stick-like wrist but no hand,' ­ this immediately portrays Candy as
physically weak as he is handicapped. However this isn't the first characteristic of his which Steinbeck
mentions - which suggests that this isn't as significant to Steinbeck as it was to the society at the
In section two we see Candy state that the boss `gave the stable buck hell,' ­ here he doesn't act
surprised or show any compassion for Crooks which portrays that this was completely acceptable at
the time. However he later reveals that Crooks is `a nice fella' but then continues to reveal how the
men on the ranch beat him on Christmas day. Steinbeck does this to portray Candy as weak as he
doesn't defend Crooks despite seeing him as `a nice guy' which expresses the weaknesses in society
- as no one defended the weak in fear of ending up like them ­ one of the weak. Candy's
weaknesses are further emphasised as he is described as walking with `struggle' - this clearly
indicates his physical weaknesses but could also imply that his life is a constant struggle due to his
disabilities - which suggests one of the key themes represented in the novella of survival of the
fittest. Steinbeck continues to describe his movement `as he shuffled out of the bunk house' which
portrays another theme used by Steinbeck of the notion of predators and preys ­ as here Candy, the
prey, tries to ensure his presence in the world is unnoticed. This acts almost as a reflection of how
society at the time behaved as the weak ones went unnoticed by society. This is developed further
as Candy is described as the mirror image of his dog, `his dog struggled beside him,' ­ Steinbeck uses
the same verb `struggled' to describe both the dog and Candy to allow the reader to draw
assumptions between the dog and Candy. He does this to suggest that in a sense man and nature are
not that different ­ however this is also done to show the different standards held for humans and
animals. Although Candy and his dog are described as identical - if a human was shot for `getting old'
and `smelling' then this would be perceived as immoral however as Candy's dog is to be shot for
exactly these reasons the men on the ranch see no wrong in it. Steinbeck uses this situation to further
emphasise Candy's weakness as he is unable to protect his dog,' I had him so long,' and `the old man
squirmed uncomfortably,' ­ he never directly states that he doesn't want to kill his dog as he feels
that he has so little authority due to his own weakness to protect those even weaker than him. The

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Steinbeck chose to describe his speech here as `soft' suggests that Candy has no voice - no
power, due to his weaknesses.
Throughout the novella we see many metaphors of the American dream as in section three Candy
states that he has a gut ache, `Them god damn turnips give it to me. I knew they was going to before
I eat em'.…read more


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