Cannery Row | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

Mary Talbot loves parties. Her primary gift is injecting cheer into her home to stave off the depression that threatens her husband, Tom, an unsuccessful writer. Because they have no money, Mary's parties are sometimes no more than tea parties for the local cats. One afternoon, Tom is in bed, disconsolate, when Mary goes to the yard to invite the cats to tea. She sees one of them tormenting a mouse, and she calls for Tom. He kills the mouse, knocks the cat off the fence, and sits down to tea with Mary. She has a pregnancy party later that year.

Analysis

Mary enjoys attending parties, planning them, and throwing them. More than that, she uses her celebratory nature as an antidote to her husband's gloom. Parties save Mary and Tom from despair, even if she has to pretend they are grander than she can make them on their limited resources. The disaster at Mary's own tea party mirrors the boys' first unsuccessful party. She too, like the boys, plans a happier party.

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