The Theme Of Freedom In Michael Cunningham's Cannery Row

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The idea of freedom is a theme that is incorporated into many novels and short stories throughout time. It is an idea that is played with and is not always clear in the text as to how free or how not free a certain character may be. In the novel Cannery Row by John Steinbeck the role of freedom is evident within most characters, as they all feel compelled to do as they please, but eventually realize that freedom is not free. The short story titled “White Angel” by Michael Cunningham is similar in the way that the characters achieve freedom, though since the two boys are children there are some boundaries on how free they really can be under the rule of their parens. Cunningham uses the relationship between these two brothers to express the …show more content…
Steinbeck uses this idea of direct characterization to show that even though Mack and the boys are sometimes viewed as losers by society, Doc, a witty and true friend, knows their potential and realizes their freedom. Doc may even be a little jealous of it. Doc is an educated man and therefore knows when another man is being smart. He sees their actions as being able to “satisfy their appetites without calling them something else” (Steinbeck 133), which means that they are able to get what they want without having to feel guilty about it. Not only do they have this freedom to do what they please, but Doc describes them as relaxed during “a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness, and covertness” (Steinbeck 133), which is where the jealousy flares. Doc has done everything to try to succeed in life, such as attending college, but despite this he still ends up on Cannery Row with Mack and the other low lives. This shows that both Doc and Mack must pay a price to achieve freedom. Doc in the way that he has freedom to do what he wants but chooses to remain helpful on Cannery Row. Mack in the way that he seems to go about doing whatever he likes because he knows his wit and quick thinking will help him. Through Doc’s actions of letting Mack do as he pleases, within limits, it shows that he believes Mack should embrace these freedoms that were handed to

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