Ms. Ashley Keffer
7 September 2011
The beginning of the novella “Of Mice and Men” makes it perfectly clear that George literally requires Lennie in his world, whereas Candy does not require his dog. George and Lennie seem to function as one entity and they each depend wholly on the other, but Candy is able to continue living after he allows his dog to be shot. And yet, despite their differences, the relationships between the two groups are also very similar.
George is introduced as being “small and quick” (2) which leads the reader to believe that he is limited in the amount of hard work he can perform, but that he is also intelligent. This is displayed through the precautions he takes with Lennie in chapter one when he tells Lennie that if he should happen to get into trouble to “hide in the brush till I come for you” (15).
Early on George’s character is portrayed as an impatient person, which is displayed throughout the novella through his interactions with the people around him. But, it is his suspicious mind that makes him impatient. George seems always to be suspecting someone of something; in so doing he never lets his guard down and is always ready to pounce when a person says something he does not like.
Candy is the exact opposite of George. He accepts people for who they are and does not judge based off outward appearance. For example, when he first appears in the story, he is accepting of the Negro man, Crooks, when he refers to him as a “nice fella” (20). Because he is unbiased, he is able to perceive things that other people cannot, which makes him a very understanding person. Candy is similar to George in that they both struggle with loneliness and a desire to be accepted. The deepest relationship Candy had was with a dog; an animal that could not even respond or talk back to him. This shows how desperate Candy was for people to share his hopes and dreams with. Candy takes a risk to gain companionship when he tells George, “I ain’t much good, but I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden some. How’d that be?” (59). He has seen George’s character and how he interacts with people, and yet the desire to be close to someone allows him to risk rejection to gain acceptance.
George’s relationship with Lennie is very similar to Candy’s relationship with his dog. Lennie follows George and obeys him like a dog would. Lennie requires direction in order to do things. George states this when he replies to Slim saying, “he can’t think of nothing to do himself, but he sure can take orders” (39). Lennie is dependent on George like Candy’s dog is dependent on Candy.
Lennie cannot think of things to do himself, but when George tells him to do something he tries to do it as best as he can to please George. When George praises Lennie to other people, Lennie displays the same joy a dog would when his master scratches him behind the ears and says, “good job.”
Candy and George both play the role of parent to their respective “dogs.” Candy’s dog takes orders and follows obediently; it is up to Candy to punish or to praise or to direct as he sees fit. The same goes for George and Lennie. George punishes and praises when he deems it necessary and he orders and directs Lennie as he would a child.
The difference between the relationships is that George relies on Lennie as much as Lennie relies on George. George needs Lennie to work so that George can secure a life for the two of them that is out of the way of unkind people. He also needs Lennie for conversation, like Crooks says, “George can tell you screwy things and it don’t matter. It’s just the talking. It’s just being with another guy. That’s all” (71).
Candy can talk to his dog, but the life of his dog was not terribly important to him. Candy did not really fight to keep his dog from being shot, he just did as he was told. After they killed the dog, Candy found someone else to fill the spot of his dog: George and Lennie.
The relationship between Candy and his dog, and the relationship between George and Lennie are very similar, and yet very different. Each one benefited, but in the end, one couple needed the other in order to function; the other just needed someone to talk to.
Steinbeck, John. “Of Mice and Men”. New York: Penguin, 1993. Print.