As Mark Twain once stated, “The more I know about people, the better I like my dog.” This sentiment is often echoed by general society; people seem to have lost faith in humanity. However, John Steinbeck illustrates his more optimistic opinion about “the perfectibility of man” by suggesting how man can improve. In his novel, Of Mice and Men, two tenants called George and Lennie go through many hardships all while chasing their dream of possessing their own farm. While they work at a farm, they meet an old swamper called Candy who offers to help them achieve their dream; he does so to ensure that he will have a future after he is fired for being too old. On page 60, Candy discusses the recent death of his dog and asks to join in on George and Lennie’s dream. Through this passage, Steinbeck proves that humans have an animalistic tendency of eliminating those who are weaker than them. This is depicted through the details connecting Candy to his dog as well as Candy’s diction when describing his potential future life. Steinbeck’s negative attitude towards man’s predatory nature implies that society needs to improve and prevent such oppressive behavior from occurring.
Steinbeck connects Candy with his dog in order to suggest that humans have created a society where the weak cannot survive. Earlier in the book, Candy describes his dog as the “best damn sheep dog I ever seen” (Steinbeck 44). However, in lines 9 and 10, Candy reiterates that the other workers shot his dog because “he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else.” As soon as the dog outgrows its usefulness by becoming old and blind, the other tenants team up to ensure its death, suggesting how society joins together to dispose of those who are weak. Steinbeck then connects Ca…
…andy’s flirt with independence, society has acted in the same animalistic way that was expected of it. Through this treatment of Candy, Steinbeck exposes humanity’s failures and inhumanness. He does this not out of disgust for mankind, but rather because he believes in the “perfectibility of man.” However, he does remind us that we, as humans, have the power to destroy as well as the power to perfect. After all, only “Man himself [is] our greatest hazard and our only hope” (“John Steinbeck – Banquet Speech”).
Burns, Robert. “To A Mouse.” Poets.org. The Academy of American Poets, Inc., n.d. Web. 14
“John Steinbeck – Banquet Speech”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin, 1993. Print.