Doc is a marine biologist and owner of Western Biological Laboratory on Cannery Row. He enjoys great literature, art, music, and the company of women. Over the years, Doc has become a mainstay in the local community, someone to whom people turn for advice and help. Doc recognizes not everyone values truth the same way he does, so he adapts to offer lies when the situation calls for it. Although he is often surrounded by people, Doc is something of a loner. His education and intellectual curiosity set him apart from most of the other inhabitants of the area. His experiences with Mack make him wary, but he accepts the people around him along with their differences. Doc appreciates Mack's ability to pursue his own pleasures with no concern for social expectations.
Mack is a resourceful, cunning drifter who knows how to get what he wants. He is good at manipulating people, and he can usually provide for his own needs without resorting to steady, conventional work. Mack admires Doc, and he wants to do something to show his appreciation, so he plans a party in Doc's honor. However, Mack's nature is to do the most immediate, most pleasurable thing. His "heroic" efforts to overcome this nature for Doc's sake reveal the high esteem in which he holds his friend.
Lee Chong is an astute business owner in Cannery Row. His grocery store stocks all manner of goods, and he is a generous member of the community. He offers his goods on credit, which leads some people to pay him in odd ways like with a car or a building. Lee Chong calculates value and risk in these interactions. He is a good judge of character and not easily manipulated. He knows Mack's ways, and turns down offers that are not advantageous.
Dora Flood is the fun loving, compassionate employer and owner of the local whorehouse, the Bear Flag Restaurant. She keeps older and ill women on the payroll regardless of how many customers they serve, and she extends her help and advice to the wider community. As a businesswoman she is meticulous, carefully walking the line between operating a successful, although illegal, whorehouse and being an upstanding, law abiding citizen. She pays her taxes, gives generously to charities, and even closes the business when necessary to soothe the moral indignation that flares up now again in some citizens. Dora is respected and admired by nearly everyone in Cannery Row.