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Cannery Row

Cannery Row


by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row Theme of Home

Cannery Row is home to all the characters in the book. Within it, they've each got their own more-or-less private home. Some are super private, like Henri's, and some are open to everyone, like Doc's. When you're trying to get a handle on a character, it helps to see how they live. Steinbeck spends a lot of time telling us about different homes and drawing conclusions from them. Mack and the boys manage to turn a cold, smelly building into a warm, friendly home. Other homes are fussy and unwelcoming, like the home the Captain's wife has made. One thing's for sure: in Cannery Row, home is where the heart—and the whiskey—is.

Questions About Home

  • What makes a good home in Cannery Row? Why do people choose to live where they live?
  • Do fat pads like the Palace always mean the people who live there are happy? Which homes in Cannery Row seem happy, and which ones seem unhappy?
  • Why doesn't Henri add an addition to his boat so his lady friends would be more comfortable? Why doesn't Doc lock his door once in a while? Are there moments when people's homes don't seem to match up with their personalities?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The best homes in Cannery Row are improvised. The Malloys have a lovely home in a boiler, while Mack and the boys have turned an old fish meal warehouse into a sweet crib.

You can tell a lot about Doc from looking at his home. First, it's not a home at all, but a lab. (Of death.) Second, his bedroom isn't private at all. He's a guy who lives and breathes his job, but still really needs other people.

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