As seen in Of Mice and Men, what is Candy's moral philosophy?As in egoism, utilitarianism, formalism, or divine command. How can you tell? Because, to me, it seems as if he is a hybrid of multiple.

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Steinbeck's character (from Of Mice and Men), Candy, is an old ranch hand who recognizes the fact that he may soon be of no help to the ranch. His character is mainly defined through the shooting of his aging dog. The men, especially Carlson, find the dog to be more of a detriment to the ranch (given his age and "stink"). Carlson offers to shoot the dog for Candy. After a bit, Candy agrees to allow Carlson to shoot the dog (after Slim seconds the dog's lack of value).

That said, Candy is not an egoist. An egoist tends to believe that they are far more important than they actually are. In fact, Candy recognizes his inability to put as much time and work into the ranch as the other men. Instead, Curley would be the one more likely to be characterized as an egoist.

A utilitarianism is a person who believes that anything done should be done so in order to maximize the happiness of all involved. At some points, this person will go without in order to insure the happiness of those around them. According to this definition, Candy could be seen as a utilitarian based upon the fact that he allows Carlson to shoot his dog in order to make the other ranchers happy. While feeling the loss of his companion, the dog's death will insure the other ranchers are happy. According to this, Candy is considered a utilitarian.

Formalists tend to recognize the importance of the form or structure of something. According to this definition, Candy could be a formalist. Candy recognizes the social order on the ranch. He believes the other men to be far more important than himself. Exampling this is the fact that Candy allows Carlson to kill his dog. Given that Slim upholds Carlson's belief about the dog's lack of value, Candy upholds the order of things (the formal idea) that Slim is in charge of the ranchers. By seconding the "vote," Slim imposes (not on purpose) his recognition as the head rancher. Candy, accepting his "rank," agrees to allow his dog to be shot.

Divine Command allots all power to God. People who follow Divine Command are "instructed" by God in regards to what they should do. Given that religion does not play a part in the novel, Divine Command would not necessarily be something which Candy follows (this is assumed given readers are not directly told if Candy is religious or not).

Essentially, Candy could be considered both a formalist and utilitarian.