John Steinbecks Cannery Row

Book Report/Review
Pages 6 (1506 words)
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John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, (1945) presented a deceptively simple series of events, with a cast of characters, apparently equally lacking in complexity, at least on the surface. It could be the place, the time, the people, the events, that all combined to create a literary experience that is much more than just stories of those who society might consider losers, bums and no-hopers.


As Number 11 stated, "It is the space within that makes it useful" and this aptly describes the book and the writer's skills, as he "let the stories crawl in by themselves" (Steinbeck, Intro.) This essay will examine the characters and significant events, relating these to the tenets of Taoism, and contending that it was indeed Steinbeck's aim to share and enlighten with this novel.
By opening the stories with Lee Chong's shop, Steinbeck created an immediate psychological link to Chinese culture, beliefs and the Tao. The link was confirmed and extended, when through Lee Chong, Mack and the boys emerged;
"Mack and his friends approached contentment casually, quietly and absorbed it gently" (Steinbeck 9), reflecting Number 48 of the Tao. His dealings with them in allowing for the creation of the Palace Flophouse, showed "Yielding is the way of the Tao". (40) and "Yield and overcome" (22). His actions resulted in a balanced win-win situation; he had customers, caretakers and defenders of his property, while Mack and his friends had a home. ...
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