The characters in this book are from the lower class. For the most part, they are poor and have very few, if any, possessions of their own. When Candy loses his dog, he loses his only true friend as well as the only thing he owned and looked after.
Though George and Lennie are fond of telling each other that they are not like the other "fellas" because they have one another as friends, they remain very much like the others in terms of material wealth.
The dream they share of owning property is persuasive to all the ranch hands who hear it because, in large part, it represents everything they feel deprived of: ownership and security.
As work is scarce during the Depression and pays little, the men on the ranch have little chance to pick and choose jobs. They must take what they can get, moving from place to place to find work. George discusses this dilemma and says that he hopes to save up some money one day. He does not want to be like the other guys who go out and spend all of a week's pay in one visit to a tavern. Yet, this is what George seems to privately expect for himself.
Labor conditions are rough for the men on the ranch. They sleep at the ranch in conditions that are mediocre at best and they work long hours, six days per week. The labor is intense and physical and, for the most part, does not require skill. It requires brute strength.