Cannery Row | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row | Chapter 25 | Summary



The cloud of bad luck over Cannery Row seems to lift, and the Palace Flophouse is full of joy. Mack and the boys discuss throwing a birthday party for Doc. Mack sets out to learn Doc's date of birth without ruining the surprise. He concocts a story about Hazel and Hughie debating the worth of zodiac charts and asks Doc when he was born. However, Doc "recognized it as a lead." Because "he knew Mack's technique, his method," Doc gives him a fake birthdate of October 27 and wonders what he is up to.


Doc proves once again to be a savvy judge of character and an old hand at spotting Mack's tricks. He is cautious and wary around Mack, having known him a long time. He correctly ascertains Mack is up to something, and protects himself from whatever it might be by not giving Mack the information he wants. Mack thinks Doc's birthday is in October when it really isn't. With this start to the party planning a second time around, the author foreshadows another potential disaster, or at least a humorous mix-up.

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