How is Candy disadvantaged in Of Mice and Men?

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Candy is a minor character in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. However, “minor” does not mean unimportant. The character of Candy serves a very important function.

Candy is disadvantaged physically in that he lost a hand in a machinery accident some years before. Since he is unable to do the work of the other ranch-hands, he has been given the job of keeping the bunkhouse clean. Steinbeck uses Candy’s physical disability to compliment the mental disability of the more important character of Lenny.

Just like Candy is no longer “whole,” Lennie is also an incomplete person in the sense that he lacks the intelligence and perspective of a normal adult. Candy, however, has this intelligence and perspective, and realizes that he will someday cease to be a useful human being. He foreshadows Lennie’s fate when he tells George that he wishes somebody would just shoot him when he gets old and crippled.

Thus, Candy’s disability helps Steinbeck prepare the reader for what will happen to Lennie at the end of the story.

 

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Candy is disadvantaged in two major ways, he is old and he is missing a hand.

These two characteristics reduce Candy to a marginal status on the ranch. He does what he can, but he can't do much. Candy cleans the bunk house and serves as host to new-comers like George and Lennie.

Due to Candy's physical handicaps, he has no power at the ranch. Morally and socially speaking he is also handicapped as the heirarchy on the ranch is largely determined by physical ability (which is a major factor in Slim's status at the top of the social ladder in Of Mice and Men - he is a great skinner; very physically gifted.)

We can see how Candy's social position is one of disadvantage when he is convinced to allow Carlson to shoot his dog. Candy does not want to kill his dog or to have it killed, but he defers in his opinion to Slim and the others.

Though all this is certainly true of Candy, he also possesses the advantage of not being in need of work. He can quit because he has some money. He is a white male and this also gives him some social advantages over the demographically disadvantaged characters of Crooks and Curley's wife.

 

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