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Cannery Row

Cannery Row

by John Steinbeck

Happiness Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

What can it profit a man to gain the whole world and to come to his property with a gastric ulcer, a blown prostate, and bifocals? Mack and the boys avoid the trap, walk around the poison, step over the noose while a generation of trapped, poisoned and trussed-up men scream at them and call them no-goods, come-to-bad-ends, blots-on-the-town, thieves, rascals, bums (2.2)

Wow, way to make success seem like failure. Sure, this is just a fancy way of saying that money can't buy happiness—but it's also a way of pointing out that money can actually make you angry. There's no reason to hate on Mack and the boys if you're actually secure in your own life choices, right?

Quote #2

True, if you came in through the fire door you had to get down on your hands and knees, but once in there was head room in the middle and you couldn't want a dryer, warmer place to stay. They shagged a mattress through the fire door and settled down. Mr. Malloy was happy and contented there and for quite a long time so was Mrs. Malloy.

The Malloys' boiler reminds us a little of the Palace: neither place was built to be a home, and both needed some work to become warm, comfortable places to live. It almost seems like, in this book, a building (or a boiler) isn't a home until you've put some work into it. That's what makes you happy.

Quote #3

It was a place to relax, a place to be happy. On the way out they had thriven. In addition to the big red chicken there was a sack of carrots which had fallen from a vegetable truck, half a dozen onions which had not. [ . . . ] The wining jug was nearly half full. Such things as salt and pepper had been brought (13.7)

Folks don't need champagne and caviar to be happy in this book. For Mack and the boys, a stringy rooster, some stolen vegetables and some dubious alcohol are as good as a meal at Chez Snobby. Sounds pretty good to us, too.

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