Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In Of Mice and Men, how does Candy become involved in George and Lennie's "dream ranch"?  

In Of Mice and Men, Candy becomes involved in George and Lennie's "dream ranch" after his sick dog is put out of its misery. The fate of his dog has brought home to Candy the uncomfortable realization that he's not getting any younger, and that with his disability he is soon likely to be put out to pasture. Candy needs something to hope for, so he enthusiastically attaches himself to George and Lennie's dream of operating their own ranch.

Expert Answers info

Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write2,306 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

As other educators have noted, Candy becomes involved in the dream ranch in the aftermath of his dog’s death. It is, therefore, the prospect of being alone and unable to work that pushes him to become a part of George and Lennie’s dream.

Remember that Candy has a disability, causing him to lose the use of one arm. He knows that once he is no longer required on this ranch, there is no hope of him securing a job elsewhere. Without a job, he will not be able to take care of himself.

Thus, through this situation, Steinbeck reveals the harsh realities of life for these men. Without work, they have nothing. There is no welfare system on which Candy might rely and, like so many others, he has no family to turn to. It, therefore, makes financial sense for Candy to use his savings in pursuit of the dream ranch. Finances are not the only benefit to this idea, though. With George and Lennie around, Candy will never feel lonely again.

The idea that Candy will be unable to secure another job also reveals just how difficult it could be for workers with disabilities. Do not be fooled into thinking that the boss keeps Candy at the ranch out of kindness. In reality, Candy’s place is only guaranteed as long as he is physically capable of labor. Candy is aware of this, which is another reason why he gets involved in the dream ranch. Although he would not be shot, like his dog, being forced out of this ranch is the same as a death sentence. Without his physical health to rely on, he would have no means of keeping a roof over his head and food in his belly. Steinbeck is showing us, then, that labor was the only way to guarantee survival.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write12,092 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Under the circumstances, it's not altogether surprising that Candy should be so enthusiastic about George and Lennie's ambitious plan to operate their own ranch and live off the riches of the land. He is a man who, in all honesty, doesn't have much to live for.

Getting on in years and severely disabled, Candy feels that the time is fast approaching when he will be deemed surplus to requirements on the ranch and put out to pasture. The fate of his old, sick dog—put out of its misery after being shot—drives home the realization that Candy is on borrowed time. He's got to do something to change his life, and fast. Otherwise, his twilight years are destined to be miserable indeed.

So he positively jumps at the chance of getting in on George and Lennie's version of the American Dream. He's going to dip into the savings he's accrued over many years and make a financial contribution to the purchase of the ranch. If all goes well, then Candy will have a place he can call his own, a place where he can live the rest of his life in dignity.

Sadly, the ranch plan doesn't come through, and Candy's fate looks set to be as miserable as it was before he found out about George and Lennie's plan.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Sol Gandy eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write965 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Set in the bunkhouse of the ranch, chapter three of Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men includes several notable events. In the beginning, George tells Slim some of the backstory about his life with Lennie, confessing that Lennie consistently places the two men in bad situations like the debacle in Weed when Lennie grabbed a girl's dress and a posse came after them. To illustrate George's point about Lennie's simplemindedness, the big man unsuccessfully attempts to smuggle a tiny puppy into the bunkhouse. When Carlson and Candy enter, the subject turns to Candy's old dog, with Carlson complaining the dog is old and smells bad. He tells Candy, "This ol' dog jus' suffers hisself all the time" and, when Candy balks at putting the dog down, offers to shoot the dog in the back of the head with his Luger. With Slim's approval, Carlson eventually leads the dog to his death despite Candy's protestations.

With the other men gone to the barn, George and Lennie begin talking, with the subject inevitably turning to the dream of the ranch where Lennie will "tend rabbits." As he had done in chapter one, George again paints an idyllic picture of the ranch where he and Lennie will one day go to live. Suddenly, Candy, who has been grieving on his bunk, asks George, "You know where's a place like that." Apprehensive at first, George is suspicious of Candy's interest in the men's dream. Ultimately, however, he warms to Candy's questions and the old swamper's offer to join in funding the purchase of the ranch, which would cost $600:

"I ain't much good with on'y one hand. I lost my hand right here on this ranch. That's why they give me a job swampin'. An' they give me two hunderd an' fifty dollars 'cause I los' my hand. An' I got fifty more saved up right in the bank, right now. Tha's three hunderd and I got fifty more comin' at the end a the month. . . . Suppose I went in with you guys?"

George agrees that Candy should join them, and, with Candy's money, they can send a deposit on the ranch. George and Lennie will continue working out the month, and then Candy and Lennie will go off to the ranch with George still working to make up the remaining money. Unfortunately, as Robert Burns's poetic lines (inspiration for the book's title) suggest, the "best laid plans of mice and men often go astray," and with the accidental murder of Curley's wife by Lennie, the dream of the ranch disappears. In chapter five, Candy resigns himself to working out his life swamping out the bunkhouse.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write1,918 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

After Carlson kills Candy's dog, he overhears Lennie to Crooks about his dream with George to have a farm of their own. Candy mentions how he fears being fired because he only has one good arm. He also is still upset about the way his dog was killed simply because it was "no good" anymore. Candy does not want what happened to his dog to happen to him. He also has $300 he received after his hand was cut off. So, seeing an opportunity to get off the ranch and be somewhat independent, he offers the money to Lennie and George in exchange for a permanent place to stay. Suddenly, George and Lennie's dream becomes a possibility because they now see how they can afford to buy a farm.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial