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Cannery Row

Cannery Row

by John Steinbeck

The Great Tide Pool

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

All the sea creatures hang out at the tide pool—living, eating, reproducing, fighting, and dying. Hey, check it out—that's just what the creatures on land do. We're getting the feeling that Steinbeck wants us to see a relationship between Cannery Row and the Great Tide Pool. Check it out:

• When the sardine boats come in, there's massive activity in Cannery Row: "the whole street rumbles and groans and screams and rattles" (0.2).
• And when the tide is in down at the shore, everything is crazy and foamy in the Great Tide Pool: "when the tide is in, [the tide pool is] a wave-churned basin, creamy with foam, whipped by the combers that roll in from the whistling buoy on the reef" (6.1).

Hm, it's starting to sound like the rhythms of life up on Cannery Row are pretty much the same as the rhythms of life down at the Great Tide Pool. Let's look at some more evidence:

• When all the sardines are canned, "Cannery Row becomes itself again, quiet and magical. Its normal life returns," and all the denizens of Cannery Row re-emerge (0.2).
• Down at the Tide Pool? When the tide goes out, "the little water world becomes quiet and lovely" (6.1). All the creatures come out from under their rocks and resume normal life.

Are you feeling a little bit of a headache coming on? That's probably because Steinbeck is almost hitting us on the head with the similarities between the "quiet and lovely" tide pool and "quiet and magical" Cannery Row.

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