Steinbeck presents Candy as a vulnerable character. He does this by referencing him as an “old man” before citing his name, using pre-modification; so that the reader instantly knows not only his physical state but maybe that metaphorically he is a weak person. He is also shown to be desperate throughout the opening of chapter 2, where he tries to make friends with George and Lennie as soon as he meets them. He gossips about other people on the ranch and makes sure George “won’t tell Curley nothing”.
This quote alone indicates Candy is lonely and just wants to have friends but deep down is afraid of the other men on the ranch, implying he doesn’t have many friends on the ranch at all, therefore he needs to be welcoming and confident towards George and Lennie to gain their friendship but this quote gives away his fear of Curley finding out he was talking about him and throwing him off the ranch, leading the reader to believe the ranch is the only place Candy can call home.
This idea of Candy being completely alone and having no where else to go is reinforced when Steinbeck introduces Candy’s “ancient dog”, the use of pre-modification again this time with the word “ancient” helps to show that like his owner this dog is old, the lexis “ancient” has the connotations of being so old it could be considered an artifact or piece of history, this concept could suggest that Candy’s dog is in fact a part of the history of the ranch that is why he is still there because even though his dog is old and useless he is still allowed on the ranch even with no purpose, just like Candy staying on the ranch with no hand, meaning he cannot do any proper jobs except “settin’ out the wash basins”.
However when Steinbeck introduces the dog at first, Candy says “my dog”, this possessive lexis could suggest Candy is proud of his dog especially as he goes on to say “he was a good sheepdog when he was younger”, you could take this quote as a declarative, him protecting but also bragging about his dog. A conflicting idea could be that Candy and dog are similar that is why Candy likes to talk and brag about his dog, Steinbeck writes for both that they are “old” and “ancient” but both are disabled in that Candy has lost his hand and the dog is so old and decrepit it cannot hunt or feed itself. Both are looking for a companion that could take care of them, they have a codependent relationship.
This idea could be considered a recurring theme as some say Lennie and Georges’ relationship is co-dependent, even though George wouldn’t admit it due to his controlling personality. So the reason Candy brags about his dog is because he really wants to prove himself, and that he was in fact worthy of being on the ranch. This point of Candy and his dog being similar supports my original idea, which was that using the descriptions of Candy and his dog we find that Candy is in fact just like an old animal, a useful and valued member of any ranch as opposed to just something that takes up space, money and food.
Courtney from Study Moose
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