Candy’s physical appearance is used by Steinbeck as an insight into his character. On page 19-20, Candy is described as “a tall, stoop-shouldered old man”, which shows us that he used to be have power and respect as well as being a good worker however now he is ‘stoop-shouldered’ showing that he’s lost that everything including his dignity and confidence meaning he is now insecure. “He carried a big push-broom” indicate he is insecure about how others see him and he wants to look useful since he could be ‘canned’ at any time. This creates sympathy for Candy because being so insecure when before you were respected is a hard circumstance to be in.
In the 1930s, there was great discrimination against old age and disability which is a large part of Candy’s insecurity. Candy has a “round stick-like wrist but no hand”, this disability makes him less of an asset in the ranch and therefore he must prove his usefulness by carrying ‘a big push-broom’ otherwise he is likely to be sacked. Also, Steinbeck uses specific wording to insinuate certain things subtly. Candy has ‘no hand’ and the ranch workers are called ‘ranch hands’ showing he is less useful and is also not one of them.
Throughout the second and third chapters, Candy’s dog is used as a metaphor and a direct parallel for Candy himself. Candy’s dog was a “good sheepdog when he was young” but now he is a far cry from his sheepherding days. It is also a reference to Candy’s position on the ranch as Candy who was more useful and necessary when he was younger and is now from his prime. Carlson says to Candy, in regard to the dog, that he “got no teeth, he’s all stiff with rheumatism” which are both canine and human aspects of old age thus paralleling Candy who is becoming old and is l…
…s empowered when he realises this does not have to be. However we feel very sorry for him as unlike him, we know that this dream is far from reality and is unlikely to happen which will only crush Candy’s newfound confidence and happiness.
Steinbeck gives Candy a very quiet and unappreciated voice which often conveys helplessness. Candy has little to no power on the ranch and is extremely vulnerable. They discuss Candy’s dog and are very insensitive and vulgar much like they say he “stinks like hell” in their language and we begin to believe that Candy is not even present because he is not imputing into the conversation and the other characters obviously do not care much for his feelings or presence. However, he remains silent simply because he is powerless and defenceless and therefore has no say in the matter, he has a voice of helplessness which is very pitiful.