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Cannery Row Character Analysis

In: English and Literature

Submitted By marie1990
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Essay: Character Analysis for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row

Cannery Row is heavily inhabited with a splendid group of characters of different lifestyles and personalities. All characters display a contented but looking for more refection and understanding. All are not actually reaching their full potential as human beings. Each person is charming and witty in their way, yet disagreeable and unamusing the next. The town’s people of Cannery Row have a beautiful blend of lightness and darkness that fill the souls of these individuals. All of which are relatable characters; loneliness, sympathy and remuneration theme this enchanting dark comedy of a novel they’re achievements, defeats, personal growth and demons haunt these individuals in every aspect making them quite likable and relatable human beings. This is the character analysis for Henri, Dora Flood, and Doc. What they contribute to the community through their mind, mentions, personality, feelings, beliefs, priorities and lifestyles.
Henri pronounced “Onri” is the town’s local artist and friend of Doc. He has a fake French accent. Although he pretends to be, Henri is not actually French. He keeps up with the latest trends from Paris. And can be quite fashionable. He is always forming new sets of principles for example no red paint, chicken feathers only by which to do his work. No one is really certain about Henri’s abilities, but everyone agrees that he’s doing a beautiful job building his boat. The boat will never be finish because he is afraid of the ocean but more importantly it’s his life’s work he has a sort of completion anxiety. A series of women come and go from the boat. He is quite an odd person.
The first character Henri contributes a quirky yet weird persona. He is artistic and he has a lot of relationship issues and struggles of have female companionship on his boat. In “Cannery Row” John Steinbeck describes Henri’s life.
“Henri had been living in and building his boat for ten years. During that time he had been married twice and promoted a number of semi-permanent liaisons. All of those young women had left him for the same reason; the seven foot cabin was too small for two people. They resented bumping heads when they stood up and they definitely felt the need for a toilet. Marine toilets obviously would not work in a shore-bound boat. Henri refused to compromise with a spurious land man’s toilet. He and his friend of the moment had to stroll away among the pines and one after another his loves left him.” (Chapter 22; Page 140). This goes to show how sad and lonely this man is. Usually most men would go and buy a home with their loved ones. But unfortunately he values his boat more importantly which makes him very strange. Dora Flood is the local madam, proprietor of the Bear Flag Restaurant, a brothel. She a run tight ship her girls aren’t allowed to drink or talk to men on the street. But she is kind hearted and generous. She paid the grocery bills for many local families during The Great Depression. She is always in danger of shutting down by the authorities. So she must always watch step and do twice as much charitable as anyone else. She is also a mother figure to the community. She is funny and often wears bright flamboyant clothes. She has woman who are old and no longer turn tricks and still lets them live with her because they would have no food and place to go. The second character Dora Flood puts a happy face on prostitution. She is very sweet and treats her girls like her daughters. In “Cannery Row” Steinbeck illustrates the image of a chubby woman who although has an untasteful occupation she is very respected throughout her community.
“This was no fly-by-night cheap clip-joint but a sturdy virtuous club built maintained and disciplined by Dora who was the madam and girl for fifteen years. She has thoroughly exercised the special gifts of tact, honesty, charity and certain realism. Dora made herself respected by the intelligent, the learned and the kind, and by the same token she is hated by the twisted and lascivious sisterhood of married spinsters whose husbands respect the house but don’t like it very much” (Chapter 3; Page 1). Dora’s persona is conflicting because she is a madam at a whore house yet she is a philanthropist and sincere at heart. A lot of the people often go to see her for advice and she helps with whatever she can.
Doc is the proprietor of Western Biological Laboratory, a specimen supply house. He is a marine biologist. Doc is a gentle melancholy man who is a source of benevolence and aid for all on the Row. Although he helps the community inhabitants, Doc always seems lonely and everyone on the Row constantly wants to do show him how much he is loved. He also is a functioning alcoholic and father figure to Mack and the boys, Frankie, and the girls at the Bear Flag Restaurant brothel. He is also obsessed with trying to create a beer milkshake. He introduces Dora's girls and the boys to opera, classical music, and literature, and he takes Frankie in and cares for him. He is also a bit of a womanizer. He is modeled after Ed Ricketts who Steinbeck was deeply inspired by used this person as a character of this persona in many of his other books.
The third and last character is Doc. He is the protagonist in this novel and the voice of reason toward the rest of the characters in the story. Doc is an intellectual and knows a lot of things from various subjects. No one even knows his real name. Yet people are often very moved by his conversations. John Steinbeck retorts in his book about Doc’s personality
“Doc would listen to any kind of nonsense and turn it into wisdom his mind had no horizons and his sympathy had no warp. He could talk to children telling them every profound things so that they understood, he lives in a world of wonder, of excitement, he was compassionate as a rabbit and gentle as hell everyone who knew him was indebted to him. And everyone who thought of him thought next I really must do something nice for Doc” (Chapter 5; Page 29). This man is incredibly handsome and knowledgeable he would be a very interesting person to meet. He is even-tempered and a fountain of philosophy in science and art. He is quite a remarkable man. In conclusion this novel is one of Steinbeck’s best work it is realistic and you could relate to the characters in the story. After all the horrors of World War II, people looked back wistfully on a world like the one in Cannery Row, where a broken-down truck might be your biggest problem. Steinbeck's book is a love letter to a time and a place that had almost already disappeared by the time it was published. Cannery Row is that John Steinbeck takes a pretty down-and-out group of people—bums, prostitutes, nutty artists, the odd marine biologist—and shows us that they're not just good people, but divine. Kind of like Jesus did. The "saints" of Cannery Row know that it's better to be poor and happy than to ruin things by striving for money. Sometimes, all you need is a good friend to throw you a party. Steinbeck squeezes in some important stuff between frog-catching expeditions and raucous parties. His big message is that a real community is tied together by guys who value friendship way more than money.

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