Cannery Row

by: John Steinbeck

Chapters 10 - 13

Summary Chapters 10 - 13

The struggles to get the truck running foreshadow the boys' encounter with the Captain. Again, Mack shows himself to be a master of adaptability, seeking out the man's soft spots and playing to them. While the Captain is clearly not in any real danger from the boys, their schemes have incurred more troubles for others in this section. The theft from the construction camp and the rather violent running-down of the rooster hint at the dark side to the boys' picturesque plotting. The presence of Frankie's mother in the novel's background is another suggestion that shiftlessness is not always accompanied by benevolence. Frankie's unfortunate fate later in the book will be the most damning strike against the boys' good intentions.

This is the most explicitly pastoral section of the book, with its loving descriptions of the Carmel Valley. Mack and the boys view the countryside as somewhere where they can live off the land (compare their thoughts with George and Lenny's in Of Mice and Men). As their encounter with the Captain shows, though, things are the same wherever the boys go. Cannery Row, as the opening to Chapter 14 will remind us, is just as much of an Eden as the valley. Good and bad, happiness and pain, are all relative terms here; human life is an ambiguous mixture of both.