Of Mice and Men

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Discuss the importance of the characters of Curley’s wife, Crooks and Candy.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men deals with many of America’s age-old issues of sexism, racism, ageism and discrimination against those with a disability. This prejudice isn’t ever clearly stated - those who are discriminated against accept the prejudice against them as a way of life. While discrimination restrains social interaction for some characters on the ranch, the need to escape isolation and loneliness means they all socialize with each other to some degree, despite the prejudices they undoubtedly hold.

One of the characters who best embody the themes of loneliness and insecurity is Candy. Candy’s loneliness is greatly attributed to the loss of his hand and, his age. Steinbeck uses Candy as a representation of age discrimination during the Great Depression. Candy sees himself as a worthless old man who, like his dog, is just wasting away. Candy’s dog parallels his situation. While the dog was once a great sheepherder, as soon as it wasn’t useful anymore it was left to be. Candy’s fate is not unlike this, and he realizes that he too will be put on the roadside as soon as he’s no longer a benefit to the ranch. On the ranch, he won’t be treated differently than his dog. As a result, Candy is emotionally broken by the whole affair.

He can’t bring himself to take the dog’s life himself, which comes down to the same thing that’s stopping him from making something more of his life. Candy can’t stand up for the dog, because he can’t stand up for himself.

He is left to endure the despair one finds at the end of a long, hard-working life when you’re done with your career and no closer to the American dream.

It’s no wonder, then, that Candy takes such a shine to George and Lennie and their dream. Seeking some way out of his inevitable uselessness, Candy works to change "George and Lennie’s dream" into "George, Lennie, and Candy’s plan." Still, it...
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