In Of Mice and Men, how does Candy cope with his loneliness?

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Whether Candy is the loneliest man in the narrative of John Steinbeck is debatable as many interpret Crooks as the character who is separated from others and is the most alienated. However, because Candy is handicapped and old, and he loses his beloved dog, he certainly feels very much alone.

Here are some reasons that Candy is very lonely:

  • Candy is marginalized as he remains behind when all the other men go out into the fields to work.
  • He fears saying anything that might anger others. When he returns to the bunkhouse after the boss talks with George and Lennie in Chapter 2, for example, Candy is quick to say that he was not listening in on the conversation:

"I didn't hear nothing you guys was sayin'. I ain't interested in nothing you was sayin". A guy on a ranch don't never listen nor he don't ast no questions."

  • In his loneliness, he tries to ingratiate himself to Lennie and George, telling them the boss is "a nice fella...You got to take him right."
  • Candy tries to be friendly and inform the newly hired George and Lennie about others.  For instance, after Curley leaves, Candy explains that Curley is the boss's son and he does not care what he says or does. "Seems like Curley is cockier'n ever since he got married," he adds.
  • When he "draws a derogatory statement from George," Candy feels reassured and opens up with George and Lennie, hoping to have someone with whom to talk.
  • When Carlson complains of his old dog, Candy "looked for help from face to face," and he "looked for a long time at Slim to try to find some reversal."  But, when Slim tells him that the dog should be put down, Candy acquiesces and puts his arm over his face. When he hears the gun shot, Candy rolls over on his bed and turns to the wall in his grief and aloneness.
  • After overhearing George and Lennie speak of their dream farm, Candy cannot help asking them, "S'pose I went in with you guys....I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden some. How'd that be?" He also informs them that he has $250.00 from his accident.  The idea of living on a farm with others entrances Candy because he is alone and worried about his future.
  • After discovering that Curley's wife is dead, Candy expresses "his greatest fear. 'You an me can get that little place, can't we, George?'" Then he drops his head as he knows the dream, too, has died. He "looked helplessly back at Curley's wife" as his terrible aloneness returns.

Here is how Candy has coped with his loneliness:

  • After George and Lennie let Candy in on their dream of owning a piece of land, Candy is much happier, for now he has a purpose to live and the hope for a comfortable future.  This dream gives Candy something to ward off his loneliness; it also provides him a reason to live, for he feels he will not be lonely with George and Lennie.
  • Whenever he sees Curley's wife, he hopes she will go away because she is troubling.
  • He asks to be included in George and Lennie's plan to have a farm of their own.
  • Thinking of the farm and calculating about it gives Curley hope; he rushes into the barn and tells Lennie in front of Crooks, "I got it figured out. We can make some money on them rabbits if we go about it right...."
  • When Crooks mocks his optimism, Candy retorts," ...we gonna do it now, and don't make no mistake about that....That money's in the bank...."


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In Of Mice and Men, how is Candy isolated and why?

In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Candy is isolated. This is due in part to the situation that exists for all of the men at the ranch. They, like many others, must travel across the country trying to find work in light of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, which started the Great Depression in the United States. They don't have a place to call home or their own.

The other reason is that Candy is disabled: missing a hand. As long as he can work, he will be allowed to stay. When he cannot stop his dog from being shot, it is clear to him that once he is too old, or has outlived his usefulness, he will be let go without a second thought.

As we read the story, we find out that the dream Lennie and George have really appeals to Candy as well. He has saved a large sum of money and offers to help buy the land so that they can all have a life of meaning; he, too, wants to stay in one place and harvest his own crops instead of doing it for someone else as he has done for so long.

Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus' som'thing' that was his. Something' he could live on and there couldn't nobody throw him off of it. I never had none. I planted crops for damn near ever'body in this state, but they wasn't my crops, and when I harvested 'em, it wasn't none of my harvest.

Working with the men on the ranch, Candy knows that he will not be able to stay there forever. One day he will be out of work, and with his disability, what will he do? So he puts in his lot with George and Lennie, pursuing the American dream of the 1930s.

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