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The stoop-shouldered old Candy, the swamper who has lost his right hand, is always worried that he will no longer be useful and he will be "canned." So, he is careful not to eavesdrop, instead walking out of the door whenever matters do not concern him as, for example in Chapter 2, when the boss walks into the bunkhouse to talk to George and Lennie after they arrive.
When Carlson complains that his old dog stinks in Chapter 3, Candy apologizes,
"I been around him so much I never noticed how he stinks."
But, Carlson pursues the subject of putting the dog out of his misery, and the old man "squirmed uncomfortably." He looks to Slim for help, for some "reversal," because "Sim's opinions were law." Clearly, Candy is a follower, and he acquiesces to the wishes of others. When Carlson insists upon shooting the old dog, Candy turns away on the bed with his arm over his face.
Later in the novella, as Lennie and George talk about the future and their hope for a farm, he does not interrupt, but waits until they are finished and asks them, then he offers to go in with them, telling them that he has money. Candy is finally happy that he belongs in a group, that he has friends, and that he is no longer on the fringe and worried that he will be gotten rid of like his dog.
But, Candy is doomed to disappointment as Lennie's inadvertent killing of Curley's wife takes away the final treat (candy) that he believes he may receive as belonging to a group and owning a place.
Now Cand spoke his greatest fear. "You an' me can go there an' live nice, can't we, George? Can't we?"
Old Candy watched him go. He looked helplessly back at Curley's wife, and ...his sorrow and his anger grew into words...."You done it, di'n't you? I s'pose you're glad...."
Candy, old and handicapped, is a tragic figure who respresents those doomed in a Naturalistic world.
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