George could go ahead and buy the little farm with Candy, but Candy would be a liability rather than an asset. Lennie was retarded, but at least he was exceptionally strong and a hard worker. Candy is not only getting old but has only one hand. All he has to contribute is his money. George would end up having to do all the hard work, while Candy did some cooking and house-cleaning. It would be an unequal partnership. Furthermore, the time would soon come, as Candy already fears, when he wouldn't even be able to do as much work as he is presently doing. He would become a worse burden than Lennie.
A subsistence farm such as the men were planning to purchase only produces one thing. That is food. No matter how hard they worked, all they would get would be food. This is what used to be called "dirt poor." They would have plenty of food. If they bought a cow they could have milk, cream, and butter. They could always have plenty of eggs, and they could kill a chicken for dinner every so often. But they would have no money, and it would be nearly impossible to raise money by selling some of their food. There would be too many other farmers trying to raise money the same way.
They would need shoes, overalls, tobacco, soap, sugar, coffee, tools, fertilizer, seeds, and many other things. In order to make any significant amount of money they would have to pick fruit during the summer months. So they would get plenty of fruit to eat just by taking some home in season. But how much picking could Candy do with one hand? George would be doing all the hard work on their farm and most of the fruit picking as well. We know from reading Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath that the fruit growers were paying very low wages in those days. Besides that, they would need a truck to get around California as the various kinds of fruit became ripe for picking. Where would they get the money for the truck?
A couple of men living together like that in a little shack is nobody's dream. They would be wearing dirty clothes and sleeeping in dirty beds. They would have no friends, no company, no entertainment, and nothing to talk about with each other. George would obviously be better off doing what he has been doing in the past. If he was getting paid fifty dollars a month plus bed and board, he could work for one month and take one month off. Food was cheap, and it was especially cheap out in the country. If he was willing to sleep on the ground, as he and Lennie were doing in the first chapter, he could probably live for two months on fifty dollars and not have to do any work at all in that period. Beans cost ten cents a can. Bread cost ten cents a loaf. A quart of milk cost ten cents. He could probably buy fresh eggs from farmers for a penny apiece.
With the death of Lennie, George is yet unable to fulfill the dream of owning a ranch with Candy because Lennie is the keeper of the dream. For, it is his child-like belief in the idea of his and George about owning a farm that generates hope in the heart of George:
"--I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would."
With Lennie, George has had a living, breathing hope; with Lennie, George has someone to encourage him in believing so that he will not disappoint his friend. But, with Lennie's death the hope generated by this child-like man recedes and ¨the tragedy of frustrated hopes¨ occurs, instead. It is a tragedy sensed by others, such as Candy and Crooks, who know that the dimly possible has now become completely impossible. There simply is not enough money between George and Candy to make owning a farm possible.
George and Lennie's dream had always been rather exclusive. It was always the case that George would incorporate into the telling of the dream that he and Lennie were different to the other farm hands who would blow their money and not care about anyone else,
With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a dam about us. We don't have to sit in no bar-room blowin' in our jack just because we got no place to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a dam. But not us. (p. 18)
It was therefore with great suspicion that George let Candy into the dream, and in fact it seems that he really only did so because he had a significant sum of savings. Through Candy the dream therefore somehow seemed within reach for the first time,
'Jesus Christ! I bet we could swing her.' His eyes were full of wonder. 'I bet we could swing her,' he repeated softly. (p. 56)
However, the death of Lennie understandably shatters George. He makes a huge sacrifice for his friend which would undoubtedly have left him broken in spirit. The dream would have evaporated to nothing, and have become just as improbable as it was when he and Lennie had been drifting through the countryside with almost no money between them. The paradox was that as loudly as George proclaimed his friend to be a burden to him, Lennie and the dream they shared was in fact George's life force. The sad prediction we could make for George is that his life post Lennie would be just as meaningless and miserable as the men's he would so often deride when recounting the dream to his simple friend (see above).
George's American dream was lost to him (and Candy's as well), and this drives home the novel's major theme of lost dreams in a time of massive social despair (the Great Depression).
George will not fulfill his American Dream without Lennie because it has always been Lennie who wanted it the most . George had always believed that the dream was childish and would not happen, but Lennie was the one that truly believed it would happen. Lennie was the one who truly wanted it.
Lennie was the one offering hope, persisting on with the dream to own a farm of their own. After Lennie's death, George was not that motivated to pursue such a dream anymore as he did not come up with the idea in the first place and did not really believe in it.