| Quote #1
[Cannery Row's] inhabitants are, as the man once said, "whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches," by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, "Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men," and he would have meant the same thing (1.1)
Let's break this down. Whores, pimps, etc. = Everybody = saints, angels, etc. So everyone is a "son of bitch" and at the same time a "saint." Whoa. That makes us feel a little better about ourselves.
| Quote #2
Lee Chong [...] sent his boxed and brittle grandfather over the western sea to lie at last in the ground made holy by his ancestors (2.1)
Lee Chong may have money concerns, but it seems like his people concerns are even stronger. He's so devoted to his religious practices that he had his grandfather dug up and shipped to China so he could be buried properly. Now that's commitment to your faith.
| Quote #3
Mack and the boys, too, spinning in their orbits. They are the Virtues, the Graces, the Beauties of the hurried mangled craziness of Monterey and the cosmic Monterey where men in fear and hunger destroy their stomachs in the fight to secure certain food (2.2)
First let's pause a second to imagine Mack and the boys in getups like this or—ahem—this. And then go get some bleach for your brain. Okay, now that we're all done with that: Mack and the boys are somehow above all the misery of Monterey, because they're just not interested in "certain food," i.e. money. (Although they are interested in whiskey. Definitely whiskey.)