Discussion Topic

Candy's reaction to Carlson killing his dog in "Of Mice and Men."


Candy's reaction to Carlson killing his dog is one of deep sadness and regret. He feels powerless and heartbroken, as his dog was his longtime companion. Candy's sorrow is compounded by his guilt for not having the courage to end his dog's suffering himself.

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Why did Candy let Carlson kill his dog in Of Mice and Men? How did others react?

Candy is set apart from the other workers on the ranch by his advanced age, his physical handicap, and his extended work in the same location.  But nothing distinguishes him quite like his companion, his old, crippled, mangy, half-blind dog.  Like George, Candy has a friend.  He does not have to travel through life without the solace of someone (or something) to share it with.  Carlson seems resentful of the dog's presence in the bunkhouse:  

"Well, I can’t stand him in here,” said Carlson. “That stink hangs around even after he’s gone.” He walked over with his heavy-legged stride and looked down at the dog. “Got no teeth,” he said. “He’s all stiff with rheumatism. He ain’t no good to you, Candy. An’ he ain’t no good to himself. Why’n’t you shoot him, Candy?”

Shoot him?  Seems a bit drastic, doesn't it?  If the dog smells, why not just put him outside?  Candy explains that he has had the dog since he was a pup, that he doesn't mind taking care of him, that shooting him might hurt him--but none of these reasons sway Carlson from his mission.  Both men look to Slim for the final decision without actually asking him aloud.  Slim, who is seen as the leader among the workers, does not give Candy the reprieve he hoped for:

Candy looked a long time at Slim to try to find some reversal. And Slim gave him none. At last Candy said softly and hopelessly, “Awright—take ‘im.” He did not look down at the dog at all. He lay back on his bunk and crossed his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling.

At this point, Candy does not feel he has any option.  He tells Carlson to go ahead and take his best friend out to his death.

The other characters, strangely, seem to be completely indifferent to the events transporting between Carlson and Candy.  They play cards and discuss the letter to the editor that Whit found in a magazine, which has its own symbolic value.  But they are largely uncaring about Candy's plight.

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How does Candy react when Carlson takes his dog outside in "Of Mice and Men"?

Carlson is going to put Candy's dog out of its misery because it is old, ill, and cannot barely eat.  Candy knows that it is the right thing to do, but he cannot bring himself to be the one to pull the trigger.  He has raised the dog since it was a pup, and he could not bear the pain it would bring him even though the dog would feel no pain.  The bunkhouse is silent as the men watch Candy curl up on his cot with his back to the rest of them, trying to shut out the world.  The awful tension is broken with the shot from the lugar, and Candy breaks in to tears.  While the men sympathize with Candy, they can hardly empathize because many of them never had anything in their lives for a long period of time.  Slim, who seems to be the most sympathetic, offers Candy a newborn puppy, thinking that one dog is as good a substitute for the next.  Candy regrets allowing Carlson to do the deed becasue he knows that it was his responsibility to put the dog down out of love and mercy. 

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Why doesn't Candy look at his dog before Carlson takes him in chapter 3 of Of Mice and Men?

Candy is an old swamper with bent shoulders, who knows his days of being a useful ranch hand are coming to end. He has an old sheepdog he is very attached to that he has owned since it was a pup. It is graying, like Candy, and it is blind and has trouble walking. Candy, however, remembers how it used to be, saying, "God, he was a good sheepdog when he was younger."

Carlton, another ranch hand, wants to shoot the dog because it sleeps in the bunkhouse with the men, and Carlton finds it a nuisance:

That dog of Candy’s is so God damn old he can’t hardly walk. Stinks like hell, too. Ever’ time he comes into the bunk house I can smell him for two, three days. Why’n’t you get Candy to shoot his old dog and give him one of the pups to raise up? I can smell that dog a mile away. Got no teeth, damn near blind, can’t eat.

Carlton tries to persuade Candy to shoot the dog, saying it would be putting it out of its misery. Slim also joins in, telling Candy he should end the dog's life, arguing that he would want someone to shoot him if he got so old and infirm. However, Candy is unwilling to shoot the dog, saying he doesn't mind taking care of him. He explains that the dog has been with him a very long time.

Finally, however, Candy feels he has no choice but to give in to the pressure. He lets Carlton take the dog out and shoot him:

At last Candy said softly and hopelessly, “Awright—take ‘im.” He did not look down at the dog at all. He lay back on his bunk and crossed his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling.

Candy doesn't look because he loves the dog, doesn't want it to die, and feels he is betraying a friend by allowing Carlton to shoot it. He also identifies strongly with the dog. Candy is old too, and knows that, just like his dog, he won't be wanted once he can't work anymore. Candy is now alone: the lives of the seasonal ranch hands are lonely because they have to follow the jobs and can't put down roots. Candy has lost his one faithful companion.

Candy's loss of his dog and the emotional pain he feels over it foreshadows George's eventual loss of Lennie.

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