[Candy] said miserably, “You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody’d shoot me. But they won’t do nothing like that. I won’t have no place to go, an’ I can’t get no more jobs.”
This foreshadows events later in the novel. First, it shows that the ranch has no sympathy for men who cannot work – they are disposed of when they are no longer useful. Secondly, we see what happens to weakness in the world of the novel – it is punished and killed.
George said, “She’s gonna make a mess. They’s gonna be a bad mess about her. She’s a jail bait all set on the trigger. That Curley got his work cut out for him. Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain’t no place for a girl, specially like her.”
We see here that there is a real risk of the events in Weed being repeated, and George is only too aware of this. He understands that Curley’s wife is a) attractive to Lennie and b) flirtatious, and this is a very dangerous combination. Again, we see clear foreshadowing – George is only too aware that her loneliness and Lennie’s simplicity will lead to catastrophe.
Candy looked a long time at Slim to try to find some reversal. And Slim gave him none. At last Candy said softly and hopelessly, “Awright—take ‘im.” He did not look down at the dog at all. He lay back on his bunk and crossed his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling.
Candy is filled with guilt. It is important that he “did not look down at the dog” – there is no final goodbye for his old friend. Remember, George sees this terrible parting and it has an effect on his actions later. Candy cannot defend his friend from the determination of the strong to kill him.
A shot sounded in the distance. The men looked quickly at the old man. Every head turned toward him.
For a moment he continued to stare at the ceiling. Then he rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent
Again, Candy is filled with guilt. He turns away to hide his emotions from the other men. In this setting, it was not acceptable for men to show emotion, so Candy must hide himself. All of the men know the death of his dog will have broken Candy’s heart but none dare say anything.
Lennie watched him with wide eyes, and old Candy watched him too. Lennie said softly, “We could live offa the fatta the lan’.”
“Sure,” said George. “All kin’s a vegetables in the garden, and if we want a little whisky we can sell a few eggs or something, or some milk. We’d jus’ live there. We’d belong there. There wouldn’t be no more runnin’ round the country and gettin’ fed by a Jap cook. No, sir, we’d have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house.”
This is part of the dream – a key theme in the novel. George and Lennie are driven by the prospect of one day having this idyllic situation. Note the desire to get away from “running round the country”. They want to have their own place “where we belonged”. It seems almost too good to be true, no matter how simple it seems.
“He ain’t mean,” said Slim. “I can tell a mean guy from a mile off.”
Slim is the wisest character in the novel. He understands the men better than anyone, and can somehow command their confidence without asking for it. His instinct is right – Lennie has no malice in him; he never intends to hurt anyone.
“I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.”
It is important that George hears these words. He can see that candy is guilt-ridden by not having ended his friendship with his dog, and the idea that “I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog” clearly echoes in George, as we see in the final chapter.
“Sure, he’s jes like a kid. There ain’t no more harm in him than a kid neither, except he’s so strong.”
George replies to Slim that Lennie has no harm in him. However, he points out that Lennie is enormously strong. He may be a “kid” in the way he does not mean harm, he isn’t very clever and he is attracted to soft thing – but when combined with his strength this becomes very dangerous.