In John Steinbeck's classic novella Of Mice and Men, one of the most realistic characters is Candy, an old ranch worker who had lost his hand years before. Candy represents the toil and personal sacrifices of ranch handymen and of ranch workers in general. Candy embodies both optimism and uncertainty about the future.
This is illustrated by his willingness to invest his life's savings, $350, towards a farm that George and Lennie dream of buying. Candy, like the dog that Slim gave him, is loyal to the ranch and to the routine of hard work. He represents the past for the other characters—someone they admire but do not want to become when they get older—but he also symbolizes the importance of being open-minded and open-armed about the future.
John Steinbeck worked as a journalist for a San Francisco newspaper before devoting his career to fiction, and he had interviewed and observed actual migrant workers in California and Oklahoma. Steinbeck's journalistic, first-hand experience allowed him to construct characters such as Candy with realism.