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Cannery Row

Cannery Row

by John Steinbeck

Spirituality Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

He was such a wonder, Gay was—the little mechanic of God, the St. Francis of all things that turn and twist and explode, the St. Francis of coils and armatures and gears. And if at some time all the heaps of jalopies, cut-down Dusenbergs, Buicks, De Sotos and Plymouths, American Austins and Isotto Fraschinis praise God in a great chorus—it will be largely due to Gay and his brotherhood (11.19)

Okay, we're pretty sure Steinbeck's just having a little fun here. But it does make the point that Gay's car repair skills are eerie, and he may have some sort of spiritual connection to cars. Again: if everything is holy, why not a jailbird mechanic?

Quote #8

And the girl's face went ahead of him. [. . . ] Music sounded in Doc's ears, a high thin piercingly sweet flute carrying a melody he could never remember, and against this, a pounding, surf-like wood-wind section. The flute went up into regions beyond the hearing range and even there carried its unbelievable melody (18.8)

In the Doc passages, Steinbeck makes more references to music than a DJ with a short attention span. (And that's saying something.) Here, though, the music doesn't have a name. It can't even be heard. How's that for a philosophical puzzle? We're putting this passage in the spirituality section because, well, the "unbelievable melody" sure sounds like a religious experience to us.

Quote #9

Doc said, "Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think," he went on, "that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. [ . . . ] All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want" (23.11)

Ha! See, when we think of philosophers, we think of guys in ancient Greece who sat around shooting the breeze and happened to come up with some smart stuff … Hey, wait a minute. That does sound a lot like Mack and the boys. Maybe these guys are philosophers—in which case, what's their philosophy?

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