| Quote #1
What [Lee Chong] did with his money, no one ever knew. Perhaps he didn't get it. Maybe his wealth was entirely in unpaid bills. But he lived well and had the respect of all his neighbors (1.3)
This idea that debt is a kind of currency is an idea that pops up all over Cannery Row. Debt buys you the good will of everyone who owes you, and in a small place like Cannery Row, that's pretty valuable.
| Quote #2
Everyone who knew [Doc] was indebted to him. And everyone who thought of him thought next, "I really must do something nice for Doc" (5.4)
If debt is a kind of wealth, you might say that Doc is the richest man in Cannery Row. Oh, sure, we bet he's laughing all the way to the bank.
| Quote #3
Mrs. Malloy had been contented until her husband became a landlord and then she began to change. First it was a rug, then a washtub, then a lamp with a colored silk shade. Finally she came into the boiler on her hands and knees one day and she stood up and said a little breathlessly, "Holman's are having a sale of curtains. Real lace curtains and edges of blue and pink—$1.98 a set with curtain rods thrown in" (8.4)
This is a little fable about how having a little extra money makes a woman want to put up curtains in a place with no windows. Women, sheesh! Of course, men would never do anything so silly.