Of Frogs And Traditon Essay

1749 words - 7 pages

ohn Steinbeck's “Cannery Row” offers many interpretations, especially when viewed through the lens of the Holy Bible. From the Christ like figure of Doc to his apostles, Mack and the boys, Cannery Row is ripe with religious tropes. However, Doc is also considered to be quick to anger at times, and carries with him many themes found throughout the Old Testament texts and some legends that are even more aged. However, if we consider Doc to be the messianic figure he is then it wasn't the party that Doc had a problem with, nor that it was held without his knowing on his property. The issue arises with the process by which Mack and the boys use to fund the party. The green frogs harvested ultimately causes Mack and the boys to succumb to greed in an effort to praise Doc. The collection of frogs used as a currency is what sends Doc into a rage.
The triviality of frogs becomes a major theme throughout “Cannery Row” as a symbol of subjective greed. Doc needs Mack and the boys to get frogs for him only because he does not have the time when a tide is coming in and the boys do. He offers them pay in exchange for their services and treats the business transaction in a fairly trivial manner. He needs the frogs, yes, but they take a back seat to more important matters like collecting octopi at La Jolla. He notes that his, “dealings with Mack and the boys had always been interesting but rarely had they been profitable to Doc” (Steinbeck 48). So if it were a high priority Doc would probably utilize the services of some one more reliable. Rather, Doc uses Mack and the boys as mere entertainment and hopes they will provide a good show. Mack and the boys, however, list the job as their highest priority as it is their first step towards celebrating Doc.
Mack and the boys, the common men, acquire a new method of capturing frogs, which breaks the sense of tradition in the hunt. In Cannery Row, Steinbeck establishes that the frogs have an expectation of what methods are to be used for their capture, but Mack breaks that tradition. And in doing so, the frogs are sent into a paralysis while they are stolen away in sacs. The collective minds of the frogs focus on what was established: the game of wait, wait, dodge. They have not stopped to think of alternatives for, “That is the was it is done, the way it has always been done. Frogs have every right to expect it will always be done that way” (Steinbeck 84). When the frogs lose a lance, gun or hand they take it as expected and hold no grudge. But Mack and company scoop up frogs by the tens and fifties like thieves in the midst of the night and have committed the unthinkable crime to the green victims (Steinbeck 84-85). The insurrection in tradition used betrays the frogs trust so much some to hop off to more stable ponds where they will be acquired in a more traditional manner. The sacrifice and hard work needed on behalf of Mack and the boys in order to appease Doc dissipates, and creates a surplus of frogs. They...

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