Study Guide

Cannery Row Community

By John Steinbeck


Cannery Row is a place on the map, but it's also a community of lovely people: the "whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of b****es" that Steinbeck talks about in the beginning (0.1). It may be a rough place, but you can find tons of examples of people in Cannery Row helping each other out and generally being big softies. In fact, it seems like the folks in Cannery Row are as dependent upon each other as these girls. Cannery Row? Try Cannery Pyramid. When there's a flu epidemic, they all pull together. And when Mack and the boys are miserable, everybody else is too.

Questions About Community

  • Is "good will" just as valuable as money to business people like Dora and Lee Chong (1.4)? Why do business owners need to deal in good will as well as dollars?
  • What are the rules that govern the community of Cannery Row? Are they different from the ones that other communities have?
  • Is there some reason that Mack and the boys seem to be so important to the whole community?
  • If Mack is so important to the community, why does everyone seem to be afraid of him?

Chew on This

Even though Doc is important to the community of Cannery Row, he's not really a part of it.

Doc is the most important member of the community of Cannery Row. Everyone is indebted to him and everyone loves him.