What are some symbols in chapters 3 and 4 in Of Mice and Men?

Expert Answers
Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Candy’s dog is a predominant symbol as individuals who are weak and considered useless by society. Once an excellent cattle dog, it is now toothless, smelly, and old. Candy has had it since it was a puppy, and he is reluctant to put it out of its misery, though Carlson points out that it would be a kindness.

The puppies are also a symbol of vulnerability. Candy is promised one to take the place of his dog, and Lennie is given one as well. Lennie likes to pet it, but he does not realize that it is weak and needs the protection of someone else, in this case its mother. Responding to a perceived aggression, Lennie smacks the puppy and kills it, much as he has done to the mice he has been given in the past. His fear of attack causes Lennie to strike back, which also leads to the death of Curley’s wife.

Both Candy’s dog and the puppy symbolize the position of those who are weak and vulnerable in society, such as Lennie. The world has no place for such individuals, and their death is the most likely solution seen by society.