How does Steinbeck portray the characters of Crooks and Candy in his novella, Of Mice and Men? In what way are they similar?
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Crooks and Candy are characters at the ranch where George and Lennie work.
As ranch-hands, they are on the fringe of the community of workers, in that they do not work in the field with the other guys. They are each set apart in their own way.
Candy is physically disabled because of a hand he lost years earlier. He is only able to work at keeping the bunkhouse clean. He is older than the other workers. His separation from the others obviously pains him, as his best friend is his old dog who ends up being shot by one of the other workers. When he hears that George and Lenny plan to buy a little place of their own, he gets excited and manages to get them to include him. Candy, like everyone else in the story, is lonely and longing for a better life.
Crooks is physically disabled by a crooked spine (hence his name). His job is to tend to things in the stable. But it isn't only his physical problem that limits him, it's also racism. Crooks is black, and the other workers routinely refer to him using the n-word. At one point Curley's wife even threatens to have him lynched. Crooks initially ridicules George and Lennie's plan, then asks to be included, then says forget it. This shows that he yearns for independence but realizes that he will never be "one of the guys."
These minor characters each serve to show how people are separated from others in society by physical and social disabilities, and how people long for a better life, even if it's for something as simple as a little house on a few acres of land.
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