by John Steinbeck
Cannery Row Spirituality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art in nature (2.2)
The "Our Father" business is Steinbeck's version of the Christian Lord's Prayer, which starts, "Our father who art in heaven." But check out where Steinbeck puts God: not in heaven, but in the earth. What does it matter where "our father" "art"? What does that mean about nature? Is Steinbeck saying that God is in everything?
People, sleeping, heard [the old Chinaman's] flapping shoe go by and they awakened for a moment. It had been happening for years but no one ever got used to him. Some people thought he was God and very old people thought he was Death and children thought he was a very funny old Chinaman" (4.2)
God? Death? An old guy who needs to visit the shoe store? If you were ever looking for a good example of how an author drops a symbol into a text, you've found it. Want to know more about this guy? Check out the "Symbols" section. In the meantime, think about this: what does it say that one of the only constants in Cannery Row is an old Chinese dude?
Hazel turned one of the stink bugs over with the toe of his wet tennis shoe and the shining black beetle strove madly with floundering legs to get upright again. "Well, why do you think they do it?"
"I think they're praying," said Doc. [. . .] "If we did something as inexplicable and strange we'd probably be praying—so maybe they're praying" (6.43-6.46)
We don't know about you, but stinkbugs don't exactly conjure up images of praying. But if God is in nature, like the narrator says in Chapter 2, then we guess that stinkbugs are as likely to pray as anyone else.