How important was the dream for Candy in Of Mice and Men?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George and Lennie's dream was of tremendous importance to Candy because it represented his last hope. He felt himself getting older and weaker every day, and he was unemployable anywhere else because he had only one hand. He said he would eventually have to go "on the county," which in those days meant living in what used to be called "the poor house," a place everyone dreaded. Candy is so excited about the possibility of maintaining his freedom and independence that he thinks about it even more than Lennie. He is thinking about it when he comes into the barn and discovers what Lennie has done to Curley's wife.

"Lennie," he called. "Oh, Lennie! You in here? I been figuring some more. Tell you what we can do, Lennie."

Then he sees the dead girl.

"You oughten to sleep out here," he said disapprovingly; and then he was beside her and-- "Oh, Jesus Christ!"

Candy realizes this means the end of the dream. 

He looked helplessly back at Candy's wife, and gradually his sorrow and his anger grew into words. "You God damn tramp," he said viciously. "You done it, di'n't you? I s'pose you're glad. Ever'body knowed you'd mess things up. You wasn't no good. You ain't no good now, you lousy tart."

Candy realizes instinctively what must have happened. The flirtatious girl got too close to Lennie and he killed her in what looks like an attempted rape. That means that, one way or another, Lennie will be out of the dream. He will either be killed or sent to prison or locked up in an asylum for homicidal lunatics. Would George consider going ahead and buying that little farm and sharing it with Candy? No, because George would have to do all the work, and Candy could only feed the chickens and do a little housekeeping. Besides, Candy knows that he and George are not buddies like George and Lennie.

Candy always talked to Lennie about his ideas for the farm. He didn't talk to George about them because he must have sensed that George was only luke-warm anyway, whereas Lennie was just as enthusiastic about the prospect as Candy. George had countless other options. But Candy and Lennie were both dependent on George's planning and his good will.