Cannery Row | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Sometime in the past

    Mack gets Lee Chong to let him and the boys live in the warehouse, renaming it the Palace Flophouse.

    Chapter 1
  • Present

    Mack wants to do something for Doc, and they decide to throw a party funded by selling frogs to Doc.

    Chapter 7
  • That afternoon

    Mack makes a deal with Doc to buy the frogs, and arranges to borrow Lee Chong's truck for the trip.

    Chapter 9
  • The next day

    Gay fixes the truck, and Mack and boys begin their journey to Carmel to get frogs.

    Chapter 11
  • That afternoon

    The truck breaks down and Gay leaves to find a part, but he ends up in jail.

    Chapter 11
  • The next morning

    After camping out and realizing Gay isn't coming back, the boys fix the truck and get to the river.

    Chapter 13
  • That evening

    The boys meet the captain, collect sacks of frogs, and leave with a jug of whiskey and a puppy.

    Chapter 15
  • Wednesday morning

    Doc leaves for a collecting trip at La Jolla.

    Chapter 17
  • Thursday morning

    Doc collects octopi and sea cradles, but stumbles upon a dead body, too.

    Chapter 18
  • Thursday evening

    Mack and the boys return and prepare for the party, drinking as they await Doc's return.

    Chapter 20
  • Early Friday morning

    Unable to wait for Doc, the drunken party becomes a fight, the lab is wrecked, and the frogs escape.

    Chapter 20
  • Friday morning

    Doc returns to find his place is shambles and he punches Mack.

    Chapter 21
  • Sometime later

    Mack decides to throw a surprise birthday party to make things up to Doc.

    Chapter 25
  • Soon after

    Everyone in Cannery Row prepares for the party, setting aside gifts and bottles of alcohol.

    Chapter 27
  • October 27

    The night of the party turns into a drunken, happy brawl.

    Chapter 30
  • The next morning

    Doc cleans up the aftermath of the party.

    Chapter 32

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Preface The place in Monterey, California, known as Cannery Row "is a poem, a stink, a grating noise ... a nostalgia, a dream." ... Read More
Chapter 1 Lee Chong owns a store on Cannery Row that supplies groceries and a wide range of items. He is a generous but savvy man ... Read More
Chapter 2 Words represent, translate, and transform the meaning of things. Lee Chong is more than just a Chinese grocer. He is bot... Read More
Chapter 3 Dora Flood is the red-haired madam of Bear Flag Restaurant, the local whorehouse of Cannery Row. She is a fair, compassi... Read More
Chapter 4 Every evening an "old Chinaman" can be seen walking down the hillside to the beach, carrying a basket. His steps make a ... Read More
Chapter 5 Western Biological Laboratory is across the street from the vacant lot near Bear Flag Restaurant and Lee Chong's grocery... Read More
Chapter 6 Hazel, one of the boys who live at the Palace Flophouse, collects starfish in the tide pool with Doc. Hazel grew up the ... Read More
Chapter 7 Mack and the boys began life in the Palace Flophouse sleeping on the floor. Each has a space designated with chalk. Once... Read More
Chapter 8 When the cannery's boiler broke down, it was moved to the vacant lot where it became the home of Mr. and Mrs. Malloy in ... Read More
Chapter 9 When Doc returns from gathering starfish with Hazel, Mack approaches him. Doc is wary, wondering what Mack wants. Mack e... Read More
Chapter 10 Frankie is a neglected boy who spends most of his days at the lab. Doc asks around about the boy and gathers Frankie "co... Read More
Chapter 11 Lee Chong's old truck was once a Model T car, but through a series of owners it has been used and reduced to "little mor... Read More
Chapter 12 "Monterey is a city with a long and brilliant literary tradition," and as such, citizens were "outraged over ... a sligh... Read More
Chapter 13 The next morning Eddie returns with a carburetor he has stolen. The boys drive through the picturesque scenery overlooki... Read More
Chapter 14 Mornings are a beautiful time on Cannery Row. As people begin to stir, everything on the row, even the corrugated tin ca... Read More
Chapter 15 Mack tends to the captain's dog and admires her puppies. The captain tells Mack he can have one of them. The captain's w... Read More
Chapter 16 One month the Bear Flag experienced a series of events that made it the busiest on record. Dora was short-staffed, and a... Read More
Chapter 17 Although Doc has many friends, he is "a lonely and a set-apart man." Mack suspects Doc feels lonely at a party, or even ... Read More
Chapter 18 Doc arrives at the tidal flats in La Jolla at 2 A.M., and sleeps until he senses the tide going out. He collects octopi ... Read More
Chapter 19 Everyone in Cannery Row is fascinated by Holman's Department Store's flagpole skater. The man skates around a platform a... Read More
Chapter 20 Mack and the boys return with their jug of whiskey, sacks of frogs, and a new puppy they name Darling. Mack gets Lee Cho... Read More
Chapter 21 Doc returns the next morning, exhausted from his trip. He is furious to find the damage in the lab. Mack tries to explai... Read More
Chapter 22 Henri the painter—who is neither French, nor named Henri, nor a painter—closely follows various modern art movements, an... Read More
Chapter 23 A cloud settles over the boys at the Palace Flophouse. They feel bad about the party and punish themselves in different ... Read More
Chapter 24 Mary Talbot loves parties. Her primary gift is injecting cheer into her home to stave off the depression that threatens ... Read More
Chapter 25 The cloud of bad luck over Cannery Row seems to lift, and the Palace Flophouse is full of joy. Mack and the boys discuss... Read More
Chapter 26 Two young boys, Willard and Joey, walk down Cannery Row, looking in windows and throwing rocks. Joey tells Willard he ha... Read More
Chapter 27 Word of Doc's party spreads throughout Cannery Row, and everyone begins to think of presents for his birthday. Mack and ... Read More
Chapter 28 Frankie learns of the party, and he too considers what gift to give to Doc. He sees a clock in a jewelry store window an... Read More
Chapter 29 Doc finishes work on October 27 and cleans up. He doesn't know when people will arrive for the party, so he has a few dr... Read More
Chapter 30 Mack and the boys go to the lab to wish Doc a happy birthday, telling him about their gift of 21 cats. He invites them i... Read More
Chapter 31 A gopher picks the perfect spot in Cannery Row to dig his burrow. He works diligently to create the perfect home, with m... Read More
Chapter 32 Doc wakes up the morning after the party to survey the damage to his house. He gets some beer from Lee Chong who asks if... Read More
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