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Cannery Row

Cannery Row

by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row Chapter 2 Summary

  • Whoa. A confusing bit about how "the Word [ . . . ] sucks up" everyday things, turns them into the Word, then spits them out as Things again (2.1). Need a little help with this? Check out the "Spirituality" section in "Themes."
  • Lee Chong, for instance, "is more than a Chinese grocer" (2.1) He's hanging somewhere between Lao Tze and "the cash register." between spiritual and practical, i.e., the Word and the Thing (2.1).
  • He'll quibble over payment for beans (practical), but he'll also dig up his grandfather's bones and send them back to China to be buried properly (spiritual).
  • Mack and the boys have their spiritual and practical sides too. They're "the Virtues, the Graces, the Beauties" of Monterey.
  • While everyone else is making themselves miserable trying to get what they want, Mack and the boys just go with the flow.

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