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“Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck Essay


The novel Cannery Row written by John Steinbeck does not have a distinct narrative. More likely, this literary work includes loosely-connected stories that throw light on the experiences of various people living in a small town which is adversely affected by the Great Depression.

Nevertheless, there are some characters who significantly affect the behavior of other people and even change their worldviews profoundly. In particular, much attention should be paid to Doc who is the owner of the Western Biological Laboratory. Overall, it is possible to say that he is a very lonely and intelligent person; nevertheless, he cannot always express his feelings or emotions with the help of words.

This is why he cannot establish closer relations with other people. Apart from that, he assists others in discovering their better qualities such selflessness or ability to enjoy beauty. More importantly, this person enables the residents of Monterey to overcome their differences or conflicts.

This is the main role that this person plays. The main problem is that Doc is unable to find his own happiness, and at the end, he is still a lonesome individual who has to seek consolation in music and art. So, he can evoke the sympathy of the readers. These are the main questions that should be discussed in greater detail.

At first, it is important to mention that this character encourages other people to learn more about music, philosophy, and art. In particular, he is fascinated with opera and classical music that offer him consolation. By encouraging other people to pay more attention to music, Doc enables them to get insights into his inner world. To a great extent, this person helps other people discover beauty that they often overlooked in the past.

This issue is particular important who are continuously driven by the need to climb the social ladder. In addition to that, his musical tastes indicate that this person strives to find harmony in human life. More importantly, he assists other people in achieving this goal. Still, Doc is a very lonely individual and his thoughts or feelings are not fully shared by other characters who are not always interested in the needs of other people. This issue is important for understanding his role in the narrative.

It is possible to say that Doc is a very kind person, but at the same time, he fully understands the imperfections of the world. Additionally, he can identify the moral and intellectual flaws of other people. This is why the author describes him in the following way, “He wears a beard and his face is half Christ and half satyr, and his face tells the truth” (Steinbeck 28).

This person is a scientist, and he can apply his cognitive to analyze the behavior of others. However, at the same time, Doc is a very sensitive individual who does not always want to face reality. For instance, he is extremely afraid of confronting the suffering of others. It is also possible to say that this character is able to forgive other people for their misdeeds.

For instance, he does not become hostile to those people who failed to organize the party in his house. In particular, they virtually ruined his laboratory, but he was still able to put trust in them. This is one of the qualities that can attract the readers’ attention. Furthermore, it later becomes evident that Doc is not driven by self-interest. This trait differ him from other characters who are not likely to place themselves in the position of other people.

One should keep in mind that other characters are strongly attached to Doc. They want to make amends and organize another party in his honor. Overall, his kindness is one of the qualities that appeal to other people who may have very different backgrounds, interests and goals. To some degree, he can be regarded as a unifying force prompting people to join their efforts, while in the past, they did not often act in this way.

Thus, one can say that Doc transforms the values and attitudes of other people. They are able to take a different look at the past behavior. Furthermore, Doc encourages people to take more interest in nature. For instance, one can speak about the boy named Hazel who assists Doc in collecting various specimens. This is one of the issues that should be taken into account by the readers.

Apart from that, Doc attracts people other people who are interested in art. For instance, one can speak about an artist named Henri. Nevertheless, Doc is not able to change this person because Henri remains a very passive person who is not able to complete the painting that he works on for a long time. To a great extent, this outcome can be explained by the fact that Doc is also a very irresolute person.

Additionally, much attention should be paid to empathy and compassion that Doc continuously displays while interacting with other people. To a great extent, he strives to find meaning in the behavior of other. In order to understand how other people perceive him, one should examine the following quote, “Doc would listen to any kind of nonsense and turn it into wisdom. His mind had no horizon – and his sympathy had no warp” (Steinbeck 29).

Apart from that, Doc is willing to act as an educator, and he frequently talks to children who learn more about the world with his help (Steinbeck 29). Thus, Doc shapes the worldviews of other people who are encouraged to think more critically. This is one of the issues can be singled out.

Nevertheless, it is also important to mention that there are some negative traits that should not be overlooked. In particular, this individual is overwhelmed by the feeling of loneliness that does not have distinct origins. Nevertheless, he does not try to establish closer relations with other people.

This is one of the reasons why he remains lonely. More importantly, he does not find a person who can fully understand his thoughts and feelings. Thus, it is difficult for him to find happiness and love. More importantly, other people do not pay much attention to his alienation. One can also say that his inner world remains hidden from them. This is the underlying cause of his loneliness.

Doc can be perceived as an individual who is needed to reveal the qualities of other people. For instance, it is possible to mention Mack. As a rule, this person tries to make people grant him his wishes. Additionally, Doc does not usually try to help people who struggle with some difficulties. Nevertheless, his behavior is changed when he interacts with Doc. On such occasions, he becomes selfless and responsive. Similar changes can be observed in the behavior of other people who meet Doc.

Nevertheless, in some cases, the actions of this character produce negative consequences. For instance, Doc helps a boy named Frankie who suffers from some mental disorder. This boy feels gratitude for Doc, and he steals a piece of jewelry for Doc, because in this way, Frankie wants to express his gratitude. As a result, he is taken away from Doc. Therefore, one can say that Doc can unintentionally harm other people who become very attached to this person.

Nevertheless, even despite this mistake, one can say that Doc brings significant improvement into the life of people who live near him. To a great extent, the readers are prompted to feel compassion for this character who essentially remains alienated. This is one of the main aspects that can be identified.

On the whole, one can say that Doc is a person who enables other characters to discover their better qualities. In many cases, he prompts them to display such atrubutes as responsibility or gratitude. Furthermore, this person enables other characters to enjoy beauty.

Nevertheless, this character is afraid of confronting the harshness of reality. The main role of this person is that he helps other characters to discover their better selves. Nevertheless, he fails to achieve happiness in his own life. One can say that music serves as the source of his consolation. Furthermore, he remains lonely even despite his kindness. These are the main arguments that can be identified.

Works Cited

Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row, New York: Mass Market Paperback, 1993. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, April 7). "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/cannery-row-by-john-steinbeck/

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""Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck." IvyPanda, 7 Apr. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/cannery-row-by-john-steinbeck/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck." April 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cannery-row-by-john-steinbeck/.


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IvyPanda. ""Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck." April 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cannery-row-by-john-steinbeck/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck." April 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cannery-row-by-john-steinbeck/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck'. 7 April.

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