Cannery Row | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row | Characters

Character Description
Doc Doc is an educated art lover and marine biologist who owns, operates, and lives at a laboratory on Cannery Row. He spends his days collecting and processing specimens, listening to music, enjoying the company of a variety of women, and dealing with needs in the community. Read More
Mack Mack is a pleasant, resourceful drifter and skilled manipulator. He is happy getting what he needs with as little effort as possible. Read More
Lee Chong Lee Chong is a savvy grocery store owner. He carries a wide variety of merchandise and knows his customers well. Read More
Dora Flood Dora Flood is the owner and madam of the local whorehouse in Cannery Row, named the Bear Flag Restaurant. She is a smart businesswoman who cares for her employees, and manages to keep the peace with concerned citizens and law enforcement. Read More
Horace Abbeville Horace Abbeville is a desperate man and father who gives Lee Chong his warehouse in exchange for settling his large grocery debt. Soon after, he commits suicide.
Alfred Alfred, also known as Alfy, is the bartender and bouncer at the Bear Flag Restaurant. He is likable and reliable.
Alice Alice is a woman who leaves Henri because his ship's cabin is small and has no bathroom.
Francis Almones Francis Almones is a man who once owned the car that became Lee Chong's truck. Francis never has enough money.
Andy Andy is a brave little boy who confronts the nameless Chinaman who walks to the beach every day. Andy is scared by what he sees in the man's eyes.
Josh Billings Josh Billings is a famous humorist writer who dies at a hotel in Cannery Row.
Blaisedell Blaisedell is a poet who jokes with Doc about Doc's love of beer.
Boy A boy finds the liver of Josh Billings and intends to use it as bait to catch fish.
Jimmy Brucia Jimmy Brucia is a bar owner.
Captain The captain lets Mack and the boys capture frogs in his pond.
Mr. Carriaga Mr. Carriaga is an observant local man who deduces that the organs of Josh Billings have been improperly tossed into a gulch. He persuades other locals to take action to force the doctor to correct the offense.
Chief The unnamed police chief learns of Frankie's disability and thinks he should be institutionalized despite Doc's offers to take responsibility for Frankie.
Chinaman The Chinaman is a nameless elderly man who walks to the beach every evening to emerge the following morning with his fish. His damaged shoe makes a flapping sound as he walks.
Tiny Colletti Tiny Colletti is a local who helps Jimmy Brucia celebrate his birthday.
Darling Darling is a female dog. She belongs to Mack and the boys.
Doctor The unnamed doctor who trained in France embalms the body of Josh Billings, and thinks nothing of tossing his organs into a gulch. He is forced by locals to bury the entrails properly.
Elsie Doublebottom Elsie Doublebottom is a prostitute at the Bear Flag who has suddenly gotten religion.
Drunk An unnamed drunk starts the brawl at the first party for Doc with a comment Mack finds offensive.
Eddie Eddie is one of the bums who live with Mack and fills in at the bar La Ida, saving the dregs of drinks in a jug he brings home for the boys. He breaks into tap dances when he needs to release emotion.
Sparky Enea Sparky Enea is a local who hangs out at bars and enjoys fighting with police.
Eric Eric is a barber and a friend of Henri's who collects books.
Flagpole skater The unnamed flagpole skater skates in circles at the top of a flagpole on a platform as a store promotion.
Eva Flanegan Eva Flanegan is a woman who works at the Bear Flag. She is religious and a mean drunk.
Frankie Frankie is a neglected, mentally handicapped boy who grows to love Doc, the first person to show him kindness. Frankie steals a clock for Doc's birthday and gets caught.
Mrs. Frost Mrs. Frost is upset with her husband, Richard, and worries he is seeing a prostitute.
Richard Frost Richard Frost is a smart but temperamental man who can't stop thinking about how the flagpole skater relieves himself. It keeps him up at night and cross with his wife until he finds out the answer.
Gay Gay is a gifted mechanic who avoids steady work, and stays at the flophouse for a short time to avoid his wife, who hits him. He has to hit her back to keep his self-respect.
Mrs. Gay Mrs. Gay takes out her aggressions on her husband. When she discovers he likes being in jail, she stops reporting him to the police and begins hitting him at night.
Girl An unnamed girl meant to be on a date with Doc is fascinated with Henri's vision, and becomes his girlfriend for several months before leaving him because of his living situation.
Mr. Hall Mr. Hall works in a men's furnishing department in a store, and wonders how the flagpole skater takes care of bodily functions at the top of the flagpole.
Hazel Hazel is one of the inhabitants of the flophouse who sometimes assists Doc in collecting specimens from the ocean. He loves listening to people talk, although he hates answering questions.
Henri Henri is a painter and boat builder. He follows the trends of modern art, and doesn't intend to ever finish his boat because he hates the sea.
Herman Herman owns and operates a hamburger stand.
Hitchhiker A hitchhiker and salesman wants to ride with Doc, and expresses the opinion that drinking and driving is dangerous.
Hughie Hughie lives with Mack and the other boys at the flophouse. It is his idea to throw a birthday party for Doc.
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob is the owner of a jewelry store. He correctly perceives that Frankie does not have the means to shop in his store.
Joey Joey is a young boy who is afraid of the bully Willard, and feels compelled to laugh about the painful subject of his father's suicide.
Johnny Johnny is a singing bartender. He works for Jimmy Brucia.
Jones Along with Mack and the other boys, Jones lives at the flophouse. He occasionally works at the canneries when they need money.
Mrs. Lee Mrs. Lee works at her husband's grocery store.
Lou Lou, known as the Greek, is the cook at the Bear Flag Restaurant. He witnesses William's suicide.
Louie Louie buys alcohol illegally from McKinley Moran.
Sam Malloy Sam Malloy lives in an abandoned old boiler in a vacant lot with his wife. He becomes a landlord by renting out the large pipe on the lot to single men.
Mrs. Malloy Mrs. Malloy is content to live in a defunct boiler on a vacant lot for a time, but comes to covet more material things like curtains when her husband becomes slightly more prosperous by renting out pipes as rooms to other men.
Man An unnamed man on the beach is concerned for Doc's well-being, and eager to know more about the body he found.
Doctor Merrivale Doctor Merrivale is a member of the Masonic Lodge, and his reputation there motivates him to refrain from shooting at the flagpole skater further once he is discovered shooting with an air rifle at him.
McKinley Moran McKinley Moran is a deep-sea diver who gives up his work after an injury. He prefers drinking.
Phyllis Mae Phyllis Mae is a prostitute who works at the Bear Flag. She is a determined woman who recovers from a broken leg.
Policeman The unnamed policeman hears the store window break and catches Frankie running away from the scene.
Mr. Randolph Mr. Randolph is a member of the board of directors of Hediondo Cannery. He instructs the defunct boiler be placed in the vacant lot while he thinks of something profitable to do with it.
Mr. Rattle Mr. Rattle is an insurance man who once owned the vehicle that later becomes Lee Chong's truck. Rattle drove it hard and banged it up when he was drunk, before being sent to jail for embezzlement.
Elmer Rechati Elmer Rechati loses his legs when they are run over by a train when he falls asleep on the tracks.
Mr. Ryan Mr. Ryan is a local who knows about the death of Josh billings in a nearby hotel.
Tom Sheligan Tom Sheligan is one of the people who feel very self-righteous after Mack's party leaves Doc's lab in shambles, although he would have attended if he'd known about it.
Sprague kid The Sprague kid, whose first name is not known, supposedly claims Doc has unborn babies in bottles in the lab.
Mary Talbot Mary Talbot has a cheerful spirit and loves parties more than anything else. She often throws parties to combat her poverty, and to fight her husband's depression.
Tom Talbot Tom Talbot is a struggling writer prone to depression.
Mrs. Trolat Mrs. Trolat is a bakery shopper who can't help but wonder how the flagpole skater relieves himself.
Tuna boat crewman The unnamed crewman of a tuna boat mistakes the party for the Bear Flag and demands girls, which starts a huge fight. He later returns to the party, remorseful.
Waitress The unnamed waitress at a restaurant is willing to get Doc a beer milkshake for his health concerns.
Earl Wakefield Earl Wakefield catches a fish with two heads and later sells it to a museum.
Watchman The watchman is responsible for keeping trespassers off of private land, but he doesn't force the issue when a couple of drunk lovers refuse.
Dr. W.T. Waters Dr. W.T. Waters is the first owner of what becomes Lee Chong's truck. When Waters owned it, it was a passenger car.
Whitey Whitey is the bartender at La Ida who misses work as often as he can, and has Eddie fill in for him.
Willard Willard is a young bully who torments another boy, Joey, and tries to pick fights.
William William is the broody barkeeper and bouncer at the Bear Flag before Alfred. He grows depressed when Mack and the boys won't include him, and he kills himself with an ice pick.
Red Williams Red Williams owns the gas station, and isn't easily fooled by Mack because he pays close attention to Doc's instructions.
Willoughby girls Three sisters giggle as they think about how the flagpole skater uses the bathroom.
Tom Work Tom Work is a local landowner.
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