How Steinbeck creates sympathy for Candy in Of Mice and Men

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How does Steinbeck create sympathy for Candy and his position on the ranch? Of Mice and Men is a novel written by John Steinbeck, set in America in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The main characters in the book are the clever, quick George, and his slow, child-like companion Lennie. They are itinerant workers who find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley. There are many characters on the ranch, including Curley, Slim, and Crooks. However, the first ranch worker George and Lennie meet is the general cleaner/handyman, Candy. Steinbeck gives the reader a first impression of Candy as a ‘tall, stoop-shouldered old man’ with only one hand. The author constantly refers to him as ‘the old man’, ‘the old swamper’, and ‘old…show more content…
Candy and his dog also draw similarities to George and Lennie, who are companions. When the dog is shot, and Candy is alone, it foreshadows what will happen to Lennie and how George will be alone. But the difference is that Candy lets Carlson shoot the dog, while George will not let anyone but himself shoot Lennie. However, Candy later admits that he ‘ought to of shot that dog myself’, which again creates sympathy for him, because the reader knows that he regrets letting Carlson shoot the dog for him. When Candy hears about George and Lennie’s dream, he is ‘entranced’, and when he is accepted to achieve the dream with them, he shares the dream. He wants the dream just as much as George and Lennie do, and his ‘greatest fear’ is the loss of the dream. However, when Lennie dies, the dream dies with him, and Candy is left with no hope. This creates sympathy for Candy, as he is in a worse position now than he was at the start of the novel, because now he has an understanding of what could have been. Despite this, when Curley’s wife dies, Candy is clearly more upset by the loss of the dream than by her death, which creates a sense of antipathy for Candy. Steinbeck makes use of Candy’s name to emphasise Candy’s nature and his lowly position on the ranch. ‘Candy’ is a synonym for ‘sweets’, which are commonly associated with children. Many people describe children as ‘sweet’ and ‘innocent’ and
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