What are some similarities between Candy and his dog and George and Lennie in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men?

The relationship between Candy and his dog is extremely similar to that of George and Lennie. Candy's dog is a constant companion, as George and Lennie are for each other. Both the dog and Lennie are helpless and look to their counterpart for care and guidance. Candy and George are both attached to their companions, despite the difficulties involved in caring for them. The dog's death foreshadows the death of Lennie and George's need to carry it out personally.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Candy is similar to his dog in multiple ways. Both are old and limited in their abilities. Candy lost his hand on the job years ago. Due to his old age and disability, he has outlived his usefulness as far as society and his employers are concerned. He is allowed...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Candy is similar to his dog in multiple ways. Both are old and limited in their abilities. Candy lost his hand on the job years ago. Due to his old age and disability, he has outlived his usefulness as far as society and his employers are concerned. He is allowed to do small, non-laborious tasks on the ranch, but Candy knows that he is dispensable and he fears what will happen to him when he completely ceases to be of use to his employers. This is the reason he wants in on George and Lennie's plan to buy their own property. Between his age and limitations, Candy will not be able to find another job or place to live. He says,

You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They say he wasn't no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody'd shoot me. But they won't do nothing like that. I won't have no place to go, an' I can't get no more jobs.

Much like his owner, Candy's dog is old and disabled. He was a sheep herder when he was younger, but is now old, frail, missing teeth and physically limited due to rheumatism. He is barely able to walk and no longer able to work as a sheep herder.

George and Lennie are different in many ways, but similar in that they are both poor farm workers who have each other to rely on and a shared dream of one day owning their own property and working for themselves.

Candy's relationship with his dog parallels George's relationship with Lennie. Just as Candy has his dog as a constant companion, Lennie is a companion to George. Lennie is helpless and looks to George to guide and care for him, just as the dog looks to Candy for guidance and care. Both Candy and George love their companions despite the difficulties of caring for them. The death of Candy's dog foreshadows Lennie's death, as well as George's need to carry it out himself. Soon after his dog's death, Candy says,

I oughtta of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't oughtta of let no stranger shoot my dog.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Steinbeck often establishes analogies between characters or situations in a somewhat obvious way. Candy's dog is old and sick. He is going to die soon anyway, and this is the reason Candy is urged, by Carlson, to euthanize the dog, which Carlson himself finally does. Steinbeck intends the shooting of Lennie by George at the close of the story to be not necessarily an equivalent situation, but a similar one in which someone takes it into his hands to perform a kind of mercy killing. George knows that the ranch hands will probably lynch Lennie or, if they hand him over to the police for killing Curly's wife, Lennie will be tried and executed for murder.

Though Steinbeck deals with this subject in a compassionate way, it's unfortunate his implication is that because Lennie is developmentally disabled, his life should be ended and is seemingly of no more value than that of an old, infirm dog. Animals today, of course, are normally and humanely "put down" when their end is near. That George must kill Lennie is the tragic result of the fact that, in the rural laboring environment of the 1930's, there was little understanding generally of disabled people and the special problems they face.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Candy and his dog and George and Lennie are in parallel relationships. Both Candy and George are deeply attached to a disabled living being. Candy loves his dog and relies on him for companionship, just as George does Lennie. Both are fortunate to have something or someone to care for and protect. As the book points out, being alone, isolated, and on the road traveling from job to job can make the migrant workers "mean" because their hearts shrivel from loneliness.

Candy's dog is disabled in being so old and infirm. It smells bad and bothers other ranch hands in the bunk house. Because of the other men, Candy ends up having to shoot the beloved dog.

Lennie is mentally handicapped and doesn't know his own strength. This also causes problems on the ranch, for Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife. George, too, is forced to shoot his beloved companion. Steinbeck shows there is no real place for innocent misfits like Candy's dog and Lennie in the society in which they live.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, what happens with Candy and his old dog foreshadows what happens between George and Lennie at the end of the novel. Candy's dog is at the point in its life when it is worn out with old age and various ailments. Thus, Carlson urges Candy to put the dog out of its misery. Candy cannot bring himself to do it, though, because he has had the dog since it was a puppy. Given Candy's attachment to the dog, Carlon shoots the dog in Candy's stead.

Like Candy's old dog, Geoge and Lennie have been together for a long time. At the end of the novel, Lennie is facing imminent death at the hands of the lynch mob. Whereas Carlson puts Candy's dog out of his misery, Steinbeck has George himself kill Lennie before the lynch mob can kill Lennie. George even uses the same weapon as Carlson:

He reached in his side pocket and brought out Carlson’s Luger; he snapped off the safety, and the hand and gun lay on the ground behind Lennie’s back. He looked at the back of Lennie’s head, at the place where the spine and skull were joined.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team