Cannery Row Essay

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There are certain books that survive trends and tell a story so powerful that they transcend the shifting tides. John Steinbeck’s writing produced many of these poignant novels, two of them being Cannery Row, and The Pearl. While these works may seem contrasting on the surface, in fact they both examine similar themes. The books both feature small, interconnected and insular communities in which resides a set of unique characters. Steinbeck uses a plethora of symbols to illuminate his intended messages, including themes of greed and money. In the novels The Pearl and Cannery Row, Steinbeck examines through symbolism, the different ways wealth, debt, and greed can affect small communities.
One of the central motifs of The Pearl is the
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An example of this is Frankie. Frankie is a mentally challenged kid working for Doc, who feels like "There [is] no place for him. He wasn 't an idiot, he wasn 't dangerous, his parents, or parent, would not pay for his keep in an institution." (Cannery, Pg. 443). He is kind and gentle and loves Doc with all his heart, but he just cant seen to do anything right. When he attempts to steal jewelry for Doc because he has o money to buy him a gift, he is institutionalized. Frankie’s character arc is of the few tragic ones in the novel. He is poor and neglected and in attempting to remedy both of these things he is prosecuted.
In The Pearl, Steinbeck examines the darker side of wealth and debt, but Cannery Row gives an alternate, and definitely more hopeful view of human nature in the face of hardships. Greed is shown as destructive in both books, but Cannery Row proposes that perhaps greed is not innate and can be overcome
“It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” (Cannery, Pg.
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