Essay on Cannery Row

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John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” shows how people living there dealt with the hardships brought by the Great Depression. Steinbeck set his novel in the 1930’s in Cannery Row, California. The canneries are an integral part of the fish industry and Steinbeck makes the ailing American economy a critical part of everyone’s lives in his novel. He show how different characters, with different points of view with the exact same situation.

A cannery is the place where food gets canned to be later sent to food stores or markets. Marine biology plays a part in the fish industry because the fish and other sea creatures must be captured first as they enter the food canning process. The first cannery built was the canning of salmon in Monterey,
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Triggered by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and compounded by the drought that created the Dust Bowl. Steinbeck shows the people of Cannery Row in their natural, everyday environment and how they react toward different situations and different people. Therefore, there is little in the way of a plot. A couple of key situations do provide indirect characterization and highlight the hardships people suffered during the depression.

A corpse is found by Doc and it reminds him of his deceased love, bringing back painful memories This shows the negative side of the world and society’s cruelties. Doc is handling of the situation suggests that in Cannery Row, no problem is too major to deal with. Another character was named Hazel because in his family the name was considered lucky with regard to wealth. This underscores how interested everyone was in increasing wealth.

Cannery Row also includes realistic details that give readers a good seuse of what daily life was like during the Great Depression. Frog collecting was a profit-making activity, with each frog five cents. A nickel was not to be ignored at that time in our history although today one hardly bothers to pick them up off the sidewalk. The first satisfactory car, the Model T, is noted to be a fine vehicle even though it broke down, forcing the driver and passengers to camp out. Today, cars are much more reliable and advanced and have many unnecessary features that the Model T did not have.

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