The character of Candy in Of Mice and Men
In John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses the character Candy as a representation of the American society’s views of outliving one’s usefulness and its consequence of being deemed valueless. In the book we are told that Candy’s dog used to be the best sheepdog there ever was, but although the dog continues to hold emotional value to Candy, with age the dog has been depicted as just another old smelly dog to the other members of the farm, resulting in Carlson to demand that it be shot, which the innocent dog eventually is.
Through Candy’s dog’s unfortunate death, it is made implicit that fait awaits all who outlive their usefulness in the american society, drawing out the unrecognized emotional value within the capitalist market, which is a constant method used by the author which relates the character Candy to the raw reality of civilization, allowing the character to continue to be a relatable symbol in today’s world.
Through Candy’s disability, age, and name the novel continuously paints Candy’s life as an awaiting tragedy. Candy’s missing hand symbolizes his helplessness, implying how his life is not in his control. Similarly Candy’s age symbolizes how his future cannot be avoided, for aging is unavoidable. To that end, one can interpret the name ‘Candy’ literally, which would suggest that he has a shelf life, alluding that he will become unwanted; since expired food is often viewed as disposable because it will no longer be serving a purpose.
In today’s world Candy can be represented through the proletarians. Like Candy the proletarians are only valued for the labour they supply, and similarly to Candy’s dependency to work on the ranch, the proletarians have a dependency to work for companies. Further, both Candy and the proletarians are exploited for profit, which can be attributed as a more direct mirror of the lack in recognizing emotional value.
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