Candy is "a tall, stoop-shouldered old man … . He was dressed in blue jeans and carried a big push-broom in his left hand." His right hand is simply a stump because he lost his hand in a ranch accident. Now the owners of the ranch keep him on as long as he can "swamp" out or clean the bunkhouse. Candy gives Steinbeck an opportunity to discuss social discrimination based on age and handicaps. Candy represents what happens to everyone who gets old in American society: They are let go, canned, thrown out, used up. Candy's greatest fear is that once he is no longer able to help with the cleaning he will be "disposed of." Like his old dog, he has lived beyond his usefulness.
Candy and his dog parallel the relationship of George and Lennie. Like Candy's dog, Lennie depends on George to take care of him and show him what to do. Candy, like George, is different from the other ranch hands because he has his dog as a constant companion, someone devoted and loyal to him. When the unfeeling Carlson suggests that Candy's dog be put out of its misery, Candy abdicates the responsibility to Carlson. He tells George later that he should have shot his dog himself, foreshadowing George's decision to take responsibility for Lennie's death and "be his brother's keeper."
Candy also plays a significant role in the dream, providing the money needed to make the down payment. Because of Candy, the dream almost becomes real. Candy's down payment causes George to believe that, perhaps, the dream can be realized. But none of them count on the tragic meeting between Curley's wife and Lennie in the barn. Even then Candy still thinks he can have his safe haven, a place where no one will throw him out when he is too old. The dream is so strong in him that he pleads with George, to no avail, to have their farm despite Lennie's death.