Cannery Row Essay

830 words - 3 pages

Literary Review: John Steinbeck's Cannery Row The adventurous and unemployed group of Mack and the boys (Hazel, Eddie, Hughie and Jones) who live in a fish-meal shack on Cannery Row decide that they should do something nice for Doc, the owner of a biological studies supply house. They plan to give Doc a party and give him a bunch of frogs to repay Doc for the numerous times he has helped each and every one of the group. Though their party turns out to be a complete disaster, after Cannery Row goes through a period of depression and influenza the people of the Row begin to feel better and happier. Mack and the boys throw a very successful "surprise" birthday party for Doc which everyone attends, including Lee Chong the grocery man, Dora and the girls from the whore house, Henri the painter, Gay and Mr. and Mrs. Malloy; the morning following the party Doc awakens and reflects on life as all returns to normal on Cannery Row. Unlike many great classic novels, Cannery Row does not have a large, complex plot. Rather, Steinbeck uses deep and concrete descriptions and detailed accounts to create a very realistic setting and lifestyle. Though the storyline is simple, the main focus of the novel is on the emotions and interactions of a group of people in the cannery quarter of Monterey. Steinbeck marvelously depicts a realistic scene in which he precisely paints each character and gives substantial background to each one of them so that the reader has a panoramic view of Cannery Row. Steinbeck's use of description, characterization and his sage choice in setting make Cannery Row a masterpiece.John Steinbeck's Cannery Row is set directly following the Great Depression in the cannery quarter of Monterey, near the Salinas valley in northern California where he grew up. His choice of setting for this novel sets the tone for the characters and the story. Having had first-hand experience with the place and the times in which the book is set, Steinbeck uses his background to shape the characters and make the story realistic. In doing this, he gives the reader a sense of the lifestyle and ways that were still affected by the Depression even after it had passed.The characters that Steinbeck creates in Cannery Row are made powerful through good, strong description. He introduces each character or group, and then, using a number of brief side stories and diversions, describes events and...

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