Bunk Moreland and Candy S Plight
Candy as a character to be pitied in many ways: When Carlson demands that Candy removes the dog from the bunkhouse, this makes us pity Candy as he feels he has to apologise for the smell, even though he has “.. been around him so much” that he no longer notices “.. how he stinks. ” The old dog has been with Candy for a long time, it is his only companion and Candy ‘squirmed uncomfortably’ when Carlson told him to shoot the dog. This statement shows that it is hard for Candy to think about such a thing, and the way Steinbeck describes Candy’s movements makes the reader share his uneasiness.
Candy speaks “softly”, as the dog is a sensitive topic to him. He doesn’t shout at the men for bringing up such a topic of killing his dog, so it seems that he is not completely against the idea. Candy’s dog parallels Candy’s plight.
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Though the pet was once “… the best damn sheep dog” as Candy states, it was put out once it stopped being productive. Candy realizes that his fate is to be put on the roadside as soon as he’s no longer useful; on the ranch, he won’t be treated any differently than his dog. Worse than the dog parallel, though, is that Candy (unlike his dog) is emotionally broken by this whole affair.
He can’t bring himself to shoot his pet himself, and we suspect this is going to be the same fear that keeps him from making anything more of his life. Candy can’t stand up for his pet because Candy can’t stand up for himself. Candy speaks “softly”, as the dog is a sensitive topic to him. He doesn’t shout at the men for bringing up such a topic of killing his dog, so it seems that he is not completely against the idea. One point that makes the reader have sympathy for Candy is when Slim told him that he “.. whist some-one would shoot” him if he was “.. ld an’ a cripple”. In the way that Slim compares the dog with a crippled version of himself, he also compares the dog to Candy, as old and of no use. We pity Candy at this point, as being compared to an old, annoying dog that “.. ain’t no good to himself” must really knock his confidence and in himself. Candy looked ‘helplessly’ at Slim when he agreed with Carlson, which makes Candy feel inferior to Slim ‘.. for Slim’s opinions were the law’. He is clearly in a hopeless position as he looked for ‘.. help from face to face’- but receives no support from the others.
This is another example of how Steinbeck presents Candy as a character to be pitied, as everyone around him appears to turn against him. When the young man with the magazine entered the bunk house, this must have been a real sense of relief for Candy, as the subject has now changed from killing his dog. Candy is shown to be to remove himself from social circle in the bunk house as his dog is being taken out to be shot. No one speaks in favour of keeping the dog alive. When the dog is taken, Steinbeck uses the word “the silence” to indicate how no one speaks out against an act of cruelty.
When Candy lies in his bed after the dog has been led out by Carlson, Steinbeck describes him lying in a ‘rigid’ way, almost as if a part of him has died with the dog being taken outside. The idea of ‘rigid’ also applies to the notion of how Candy’s voice has been silenced by the demands of the group and how he could not stand up for the old dog he loved. The ‘invasion’ of ‘silence’ also indicates how voices seem to be silenced. While George tries to start up a conversation, the silence falls on the room again, as if a heavy blanket is being thrown over them, silencing their words.
When Candy hears the shot, he can only turn to the wall, ‘roll over’ and remain silent. Steinbeck presents Candy as almost dead himself when he hears the shot that killed the dog. In this, Steinbeck brings out the complex dimensions of love and not standing up for those who one loves. Gives up doesn’t want to appear sentimental and weak. Candy tries to divert Carlson’s attention with the letter; Candy watches Carlson “uneasily”; Candy tries to delay Carlson from shooting the dog but to no avail, so he surrenders to Carlson.