The Theme Of Loneliness In John Steinbeck's Cannery Row

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In John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Captain, the assembly-woman’s husband whose land holds a frog pond, feels “indebted to Mack and the boys,” and offers them whiskey and a dog (94). However, Mack needs to be reassured of his offer because he “’never did roll a drunk and [he] ain’t gonna start now’” (95). Although Mack is described as a loser and a petty thief, he would not willing steal from a drunk man. The fact that Mack would not steal from an impaired man demonstrates a deeper level of humanity in Mack that had previously been unrevealed. This brief point in the center of the novel suggests the degree to which Steinbeck’s subplots expand the understanding of the novel’s characters. Therefore, Steinbeck utilizes the small subplots of his novel …show more content…
The community of Cannery Row worshiped Doc and believed that “[h]is mind knew no horizon - and his sympathy had no warp … Everyone was indebted to him. And everyone who thought of him thought next, ‘I really must do something nice for Doc’” (29). Steinbeck establishes that Doc is a kind, melancholy man who served as the community’s leading expert on art, culture, and medicine. Therefore, everyone who knew him loved him in one way or another, but Doc was always alone, despite the fact that “Doc [had] dug himself into Cannery Row” (28). Similar to Doc, the gopher had “dug down into the coal-black earth,” of Cannery Row and made his home (191). Steinbeck’s repeated use of “dug” implies that Doc and the gopher had similar goals when creating their homes. Both had come to Cannery Row to live out their lives happily and with the hope of finding companionship. Moreover, the gopher “had dug his great chamber and his four emergency exits … he had found the perfect place to live” (191). The gophers four emergency exits are comparable to the occupations Doc held for the community. Doc acted not only as a scientist, but as a medical doctor, a confidant, and a philosopher. Thus, making him irreplaceable to the Cannery Row community. Furthermore, Steinbeck’s continued use of “dug” suggests that Doc had created these occupations for himself in order to cement his place in the Cannery Row community. The gopher also made “his beautiful burrow in the beautiful place but no female ever came” (192). Likewise, Doc never had a longtime companion despite the fact that Mack believed that Doc has “got three four dames” (43). Both Doc and the gopher remain alone implying that perhaps Doc is in the wrong place to find love. Moreover, toward the end of the novel, Doc begins to accept that he is alone with the realization that his “friends,” the inhabitants of Cannery

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