How do they relate to the plot and characters?
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You have George and Lennie's dream of owning a farm. George and Lennie represent the working class. The farm is not just their dream, but the dream of the working man to be able to get ahead in life,to achieve independence and get a piece of the American Dream.
Candy's dog is another symbol. The old dog has outlived its usefulness and is put down. This symbolizes what happens to any who outlive their usefulness, lime Candy.