In Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Men, there are clearly some suggestive parallels between Candy's old dog and Lennie. The old dog is no longer of any use and it is of diminished capacity just as Lennie is by the narrative's end. Carlson tells Candy,
"If you want me to, I'll put the old devil out of his misery riht now and get it over with. Ain't nothing left for him."
Similarly, George puts Lennie out of his future misery and "gets it over with." George knows that there is no reversal of fortune for Lennie anymore than there has been for Candy's old dog. For, as he and Candy stand over the body of Curley's wife, Candy says,
"We oughtta le 'im get away. You do't know that Curley. Curley gon'ta wanta get 'im lynched. Curley'll get 'im killed."
George watched Candy's lips. "Yeah," he said at last, "that's right, Curley will. And' the other guys will."
The true friend of Lennie, George cannot bear to think of the cruel fate that awaits Lennie, one that will include great torture since Lennie cannot get away, nor can he survive on his own, and George can no longer protect him. Their dream is destroyed; George has said, "I think I knowed we'd never do her" and he is in despair. He and Lennie have no future; they cannot run from Weed and Salinas and who knows where else. Lennie, tragically, has outlived his usefulness, just as the old dog has, and there is no place for him in the world; "there ain't nothing left for him." Therefore, George shoots his friend as a mercy killing. Afterwards, Slim tells him, "You hadda, George. I swear, you hadda," As Steinbeck himself has written,
"Lennie was not to represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men."
Lennie's death, then, symbolizes the futility of this yearning for meaning and manhood in the alienated world of the dispossessed during the Great Depression.