How does Candy suffer in Of Mice and Men?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Candy suffers physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Candy is old, tired, frail, and unable to perform physical tasks as well as he used to. He is missing a hand, which he injured and lost due to a work-related accident. No longer able to meet the physical demands of being a ranch worker, Candy now works as a cleaner.

Candy believes himself to be useless because of his age and physical limitations. He has a negative self-image and feels that he no longer serves a purpose and is a burden to those around him. He is unhappy and lives in constant fear of being fired. He has a glimmer of hope when George and Lennie agree to include him in their plan to buy a ranch of their own. That hope is quickly extinguished when Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife, forcing Lennie and George to flee.

Candy’s closest companion is an old dog. Much like Candy, the dog used to be able to work (as a sheepdog) but is now too old to be of use. The ranch workers complain about the dog’s presence and unpleasant odor and believe it should be put out of its misery. Carlson kills the dog, and Candy is left without his beloved companion. Not only is Candy saddened by the loss of his pet, but he considers the dog’s death to be a portent of how he himself will be treated when he is no longer able to work in any capacity.

Candy suffers from physical ailments caused by age and the loss of his hand. He suffers psychologically, believing himself to be useless and of no value. He feels he has outlived his purpose and could be fired at any moment. He suffers emotionally when his dog is killed and endures even more emotional and psychological suffering when his dreams of owning a ranch with George and Lennie are dashed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team