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Cannery Row | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row | Chapter 28 | Summary



Frankie learns of the party, and he too considers what gift to give to Doc. He sees a clock in a jewelry store window and fixates on it. In the middle of the night, he smashes the window and takes the clock and a statue and runs away. He is caught by the police who call Doc down to the station the next day. They know of Frankie's mental disability and plan to institutionalize him, despite Doc's offer to take responsibility for the boy. When Doc asks Frankie why he stole the items, Frankie tells Doc he loves him. Doc leaves quickly to go collecting at the beach.


Frankie once again serves as a foil for Mack and boys. All are getting gifts for Doc, and all have good intentions. However, Frankie's simple, misguided actions to express his genuine, devoted love to Doc are misinterpreted and condemned by society. Whereas Frankie is judged harshly, destined for an intuition to remove him from society, Mack and the boys face no legal consequences and no lasting social stigma from the calamitous party. Doc reacts differently to the two events as well. While Doc quickly forgave and accepted Mack and the boys, Doc runs away from Frankie when he tells him love motivated his theft. Frankie is a truly tragic character, while Mack and the boys are comic.

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