Cannery Row by John SteinbeckCannery Row is a book without much of a plot. Rather, it is an attempt to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California, which is populated by a mix of those down on their luck and those who choose for other reasons not to live up the hill in the more respectable area of town. The flow of the main plot is frequently interrupted by short vignettes that introduce us to various denizens of the Row, most of whom are not directly connected with the central story. These vignettes are often characterized by direct or indirect reference to extreme violence: suicides, corpses, and the cruelty of the natural world.
The story of Cannery Row follows the adventures of Mack and the boys, a group of unemployed yet resourceful men who inhabit a converted fish-meal shack on the edge of a vacant lot down on the Row.
Sweet Thursday is the sequel to Cannery Row.
Cannery Row may be sentimental but it is far from shallow
John Steinbeck is one of the best-known and most revered American literary figures. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Grapes of Wrath , highlighting the lives of migrant farm workers in the Salinas Valley, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in He married his first wife, Carol Henning, in They lived in Pacific Grove next to Cannery Row, where much of the material for his books was gathered. Living in Pacific Grove, in a house owned by his father, Steinbeck wrote stories spiced with the vibrant tales of cannery workers and roughnecks he knew. Sweet Thursday , the sequel to Cannery Row , was published in Steinbeck died on December 20, , in New York City.
Cannery Row is a novel by American author John Steinbeck , published in It is set during the Great Depression in Monterey, California , on a street lined with sardine canneries that is known as Cannery Row. The story revolves around the people living there: Lee Chong, the local grocer; Doc, a marine biologist ; and Mack, the leader of a group of derelicts. A film version was released in and a stage version was produced in Cannery Row has a simple premise: Mack and his friends are trying to do something nice for their friend Doc, who has been good to them without asking for reward. Mack hits on the idea that they should throw a thank-you party, and the entire community quickly becomes involved. Unfortunately, the party rages out of control, and Doc's lab and home are ruined—and so is Doc's mood.
If you like, you can take that statement at face value. Jokes about booze and sex and food tend to have a good shelf life. Similarly, the book is dripping in nostalgia, not to mention sentimentality. Steinbeck clearly loves his central character, marine biologist Doc who was based on his close friend Ed Ricketts , as much as everyone in the book. As much as poor weak-minded Frankie, whose keening devotion and desire to give the Doc something precious eventually lands him on the wrong side of the law and facing life in an asylum — which we learn in a scene so plangent you can almost hear the swelling strings.
Construction for both visitors and those looking to settle down in the area continued through the turn of the century. The construction of the elegant Tevis Estate, with carriages, cottages, and overall coastal grandeur, led to the entire development of what Cannery Row is today. After burning down for the third time, the Chinese officially fell from being the biggest fishing and canning force in Cannery Row during the s, to a tiny settlement off of China Point to McAbee Beach by World War I actually brought even more expansion to the already thriving canning industry in the Monterey Peninsula, primarily in Cannery Row. Through to , Cannery Row went from having just a few canning plants to opening up California Fisheries Co. A very good and prosperous two years indeed for Cannery Row.