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Cannery Row
Cannery Row
by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Man and the Natural World

Folks in Cannery Row live pretty closely with nature. Everyone's livelihood depends on the fish that live off the coast, and quite a few characters live more or less out of doors. In Cannery Row, D...

Spirituality

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-drop...

Wealth

When we talk about "wealth" in Cannery Row, we mostly mean "debt." Surprised? Sure, they seem like they should be opposites. Either you're Scrooge McDuck splashing around in a swimming pool full 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...

Happiness

To paraphrase Tolstoy, happiness is usually pretty boring. That's why most novelists don't spend much time on it. It's way more interesting when characters are mooning around and miserable, which a...

Visions of Monterey

Steinbeck decided to name his book after where it takes place, so it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the setting is a pretty important part of the book. Unlike, say, Robocop, it's h...

Writing

You know authors and their egos: they just love to write about writing. So, it's never a huge surprise when writing is a theme of a book. In the first chapter, Steinbeck sets up a big metaphor betw...

Community

Cannery Row is a place on the map, but it's also a community of lovely people: the "whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches" that Steinbeck talks about in the beginning (0.1). It may be a roug...

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