Of Mice and Men Of Mice and Men Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, is a story which shows how weak the human trait of loyalty can be if put through the test of time. It shows how people can turn on their family, best friend, and even their life-long companions if they are presented with the opportunity for advancement in life. This novel shows the reader the true animalistic nature of all humans through the use of highly developed characters as well a thoroughly developed story line. George is not a strong man physically, but what he is lacking physically he makes up for in his mentality. Although his abundance of mental strength does not become apparent until later in the story, it is fairly obvious from the beginning that his physical strength is lacking.
Lennie, on the other hand, is physically “strong as a bull”(22), according to George, but mentally is a weak as George is physically. Together, as they travel from place to place looking for their chance at making their dream a reality, they use each other’s strong points to help them complete the task. Without one another the two characters would have absolutely no chance at success, for what one is lacking the other has an ample amount of. George and Lennie are the perfect example of how opposites attract. The two of them have spent the majority of their adult lives together and know each other better than they know anybody else in the entire world.
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They share their hard times and the good, their victories and their defeats, but most importantly they share a common dream. That dream is of having “a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs an’ live off the fatta the lan'”(14), where Lennie can take care of the rabbits just as George has been taking care of him over the years. This is Lennie’s chance to pay George back for all of the kindness that he has had bestowed upon him out of his true love and loyalty towards George. When they arrive at the ranch where they will be working the first person that they meet is an older gentleman named Candy. Candy has lived a long and hard life on the ranch and has nothing to show for it. During his time on the ranch he has lost his hand, grown old, and feels that he has become worthless.
The name “Candy” is an interesting one for this character though. When you think of candy you see children eating it while running around in the yard having a good time without a care in the world. This is the exact opposite of what the character in the novel is. The restless demon of age has caught up with him and he is not able to move as fast as he once did; even his dog is unable to ward off the negative effects of time. Candy loves his dog with all of his heart; it has been his best friend for years and according to Candy he has “Had him since he was a pup.
I herded sheep with him.” (44) Even though he cannot run as fast as in his prime or herd sheep like he did when he was younger Candy loves him just the same. He appreciates all of the joy and loyalty that his once great dog has brought to him during his life and is ready to let his friend now live out the rest of his natural life. Unfortunately that is not the way that some of the other people in the room see it. Carlson feels “This ol’ dog jus’ suffers hisself all the time. If you was to take him out and shoot him right in the back of the head..
right there, why he’d never know what hit him”(45). Carlson even offers to give him a new dog to replace the one that he is about to destroy. The way that Candy sees it is that he is not hurting anyone and that there is no reason to have to end his life prematurely. Even though Candy loves his dog more than anything else in the world he chooses to let someone shoot his dog in the back of the head. After all that they had been through and all the years of loyal service that his supposed best friend had performed for Candy, when pressured into a decision, he chose to defy his loyal companion and make the decision on when he should die. This leads one to wonder why he made the decision that he did.
What drove Candy to defy the trust his loyal companion of years? Candy knew that his pet had limited time left in his life, and after he passed, who would Candy have to call a friend? He let Carlson kill his dog in hopes that the other workers would then give him the friendship and loyalty that his dog had provided him for years. If this happened, Candy would not have to spend the rest of his life alone and desolate in his old age; he would then have friends and people who he could talk to. He had been lacking this for years and wanted to obtain it desperately, even if it meant betraying his oldest friend. George and Lennie have the same relationship that Candy and his dog have shared for so many years. They are as close to each other’s hearts as any two people can be in life. George has given up his chance at a somewhat normal life to help Lennie live as full of a life as he is mentally capable of doing.
As the story progresses you see that George starts to resent the fact that he is being held back by Lennie: “..crazy son-of-a-bitch. You keep me in hot water all the time”(11). After George said this “His anger left him suddenly.” When George blows up on Lennie he then remembers that although he does a lot of Lennie, Lennie does a lot for him. Without each other both would be lost in life and …