Cannery Row

The Humanity of Cannery Row
John Steinbeck reveals to us as a society the potential of humanity that lies in each of us through the different characters throughout his novel, Cannery Row.   “In actuality, the story is not really about the sardine industry at all, but rather a collection of short stories that are all unified about the same theme, the quality and meaning of life” (mpcfaculty).   He does this through Mack and the boys, a group of men who in today’s time would be looked upon as bums.   Then he tells us about a group of women, Dora and the girls and their choice of work that by all means would be highly looked at as disgraceful in our world today.   His focus in this story is of a man who is a loner, Doc, and another man who values the almighty dollar, Mr. Chong.   Steinbeck shows us the positive values that are found in the characters traditionally many people would find inferior or lacking.
The story of Cannery Row takes place during the Great Depression.   It tells a story of some lower class people who are bums and whores.   Yet these people have a great respect for one another regardless of how they live their lives.   They look out for one another and they care about the people who live among them in this town.   For example, Mack and the boys want to do something nice for Doc because he is always good to them.   “That Doc is a hell of a nice fella.” “I been wondering for a long time,” Mack continued, “what we could do for him—something nice. Something he’d like” (43).
Mack and the boys are a group of bums who have fashioned a life and family together.   The real gift of characterization is evident in this gang of penniless itinerant workers known as “Mack and the boys.”   Mack is more or less the leader of these men and he leads them from low to higher ways of life by the sense of community that he creates within “The Palace Flophouse and Grill.”   In today’s world these men would be viewed as failures of society.   Steinbeck however, portrays them as...