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Cannery Row | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row | Chapter 21 | Summary



Doc returns the next morning, exhausted from his trip. He is furious to find the damage in the lab. Mack tries to explain, and Doc punches him repeatedly. Mack just takes it, admitting he deserves it. Doc hears mournful music in his head. He gets beer across the street and brings it back to the lab where he shares a glass with Mack and asks what happened. Mack apologizes and says he always does things like this. He ruined his marriage in a similar way. He promises they will pay Doc back for the damage, but Doc says they both know that won't happen. There are hundreds of dollars' worth of broken glass. All of Doc's rage is spent. He spends the rest of the day cleaning up the lab.


Doc deals with the aftermath of the party on his own. Although Mack and the boys created the disaster, they don't make amends. Aside from the pain of Doc's punches, there are no consequences for Mack or the boys. Doc and Mack acknowledge this fact when Doc refuses to believe Mack's platitudes about paying for the damage. After expressing his initial anger, Doc simply accepts what is. Mack and the boys are just the way they are. Doc doesn't waste energy trying to change them. While Mack and the boys recover from what readers can presume are tremendous hangovers from the night before, Doc loses a day of work to clean up the lab, and he will have to pay from his own pocket to replace the broken windows and door. Again, Doc is alone.

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