This selfishness is typical of the younger generation in this novel, and is best illustrated by the farm workers’ card game, whilst all the time refusing to acknowledge Candy’s suffering or attempting to comfort him. The deliberate timing of the event, when he was surrounded by other people, was Carlson’s way of asserting control and appealing to the presumed allegiance of everyone in the room to appear more authoritative when talking to Candy. In this way we see that people often need the support of other like-minded people before they feel comfortable asserting their opinions.
The dog comes to represent Candy’s precarious situation as an elderly and increasingly unwanted part of society. He sees the dog as foreshadowing of his eventual fate when he grows too old to work. He is afraid of being cast out as a nuisance, unworthy of life or protection and despised by the younger generation. His proposal of giving all his money in exchange for a place on George and Lennie’s planned farm is a marker of his desperate situation. The prospective of leaving the farm briefly endows Candy with the confidence to stand up to Curley’s wife after she threatens Crooks.
This suggestion of bravery and friendship is indicative of the type of man Candy would be if not for his loneliness, which has crippled his self-belief and has left him near destitute and subservient. The above characters demonstrate the pitfalls of loneliness, and the dangers it poses to people and their well-being. In contrast to this George and Lennie, through a mutually beneficial relationship, are able to deflect the negative attributes of their solitary professions by travelling together (“I got you.. and you got me”).
Most people have needs that require social interaction with people, something which George and Lennie are able to achieve through their mutual friendship, in spit of their hard living conditions. This enables them to function in a more stable and happier way. Their stability stems from a mutual dream of their own farm (“We got a future”); a dream that sustains them throughout their journeying, and as a result they’re not aimless like so many of the other workers in their situation who squander their monthly pay packets on alcohol, gambling and female company.
This is in contrast to other itinerant workers, whose lives do not depend upon anyone, and so nobody depends on them. The memory of a former occupant of the bunkhouse, who “upped and quit, the way a guy will” represents those who are resigned to their situation, and demonstrates the desultory manner in which they lead their lives. Lennie and George enjoy a symbiotic relationship in which each is able to obtain something from the other. From Lennie, George acquires an emotional baseline which enables him to better assert himself, as well as a responsibility and duty towards others.
George is aware of a meanness in himself (“a real smart guy… ain’t hardly ever a nice fella'”), but through looking after Lennie he pacifies his character (“well, I ain’t done nothing like that no more”). From George, Lennie acquires a carer and sense of purpose through their shared dream of buying a farm. The stability George is afforded from Lennie gives him the ability to stand up for people without fear of reproductions, because he has protection in the form of Lennie, and even if he were to be sent away he wouldn’t be alone.
His behaviour was calm but unwavering when he confronted Curley and Curley’s wife. His compassionate nature is shown when he tries to change the subject in the bunkhouse when his cohabitants are pressuring Candy to kill his dog (“I seen a guy in Weed that had an Airedale could heard sheep”), but Carlson recognises this attempt and was “was not to be put off”. Candy recognises this moral integrity in George and so decides to trust him with his money and enter into a partnership with him and Lennie and buy a farm.
Because of the proposed partnership with Candy they do, briefly, have a chance of realising their dream. Steinbeck here demonstrates that trust in people is required in order to achieve your dreams. After George kills Lennie he chooses not to buy and live on his own farm with Candy as a form of self-punishment, (“I’ll work my month… an’ I’ll stay all night in some lousy cat house”). George now accepts that without Lennie his dream of owning a farm is dead, so chooses to face a life of cruel loneliness as a normal itinerant worker with no goals or aspirations other than to numb the pain of existence.
In conclusion Steinbeck continually uses characters that, in the context of their society, live with prior afflictions (such as skin colour, infirmity, mental ability, and even gender) which hinder them from functioning in society as isolated individuals, so must form alliances and partnerships to enable them to survive. This element of symbiosis stems from the environment in which they exist, where a man is only as powerful as his ability to work. He attacks the capitalist system in which people are regarded as labour and not given the rights or freedoms to enable them to put down roots and start families.
His criticism of the American Dream of hard work promising prosperity and success, and a compassionate look at its victims, are core themes throughout the book. The lack of social security and level of expectation upon the individual to support themselves, or else face starvation, forces people like Lennie into work to survive, even if they’re danger to themselves or others. The inevitable tragedy was Lennie’s slowness being kept secret from Lennie’s wife, who unknowingly set the tragedy in motion.
Steinbeck tells us the only way to improve things is to enable trust and openness in the workforce, and that this depends on workers rights and freedoms being protected. Though the enabling of trust and openness in the workplace, people would be empowered to work from a position of strength rather than need, vulnerability and defensiveness; and with loneliness reduced as a consequence life would improve for everyone. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.