Steinbeck is all over the spiritual map in Cannery Row. He's got references to Catholicism (St. Francis), to Daoism (Lao-Tse), to Greek goddesses (the Graces) ... you name it, Steinbeck's name-dropped it. And that's not counting his hints that you might be able to find God out there in the natural world, maybe in a stinkbug or something. What do we make of this big, simmering, spiritual stew? Is it all just a tasty mish-mash? Well, one thing almost all of these nods to spirituality have in common is that Steinbeck always manages to bring things down to earth. The St. Francis in question, for instance, is Gay, a gifted car mechanic who spends more time in prison than on the outside. Hmm, this may be one kind of spirituality we can really get behind.
In Cannery Row, music is particularly associated with spirituality.
By always joining high falutin' spiritual stuff (like prayer) with low, gross things (like stinkbugs), Steinbeck wants to suggest that holiness is everywhere.