What is the main idea of Cannery Row by John Steinbeck?
Many critics argue that John Steinbeck was trying to create a kind of social utopia through his presentation of this society and the way that a group of strange misfits and characters, mostly occupying the lower rungs of the social ladder, coexist thanks to their warm-hearted nature and tenderness. However, what is interesting to note is the way that there are examples of cruelty and violence that seem to stand in opposition to this overall hopeful, idealistic and optimistic presentation of mankind. For example, men commit suicide, Doc discovers a dead female on the beach, and a harmless backward boy is locked up in an institution because he attempted to steal a gift as a token of love. Such evidence of cruelty and violence seems to represent a questioning or a doubting of the existence of such a utopian happiness. In addition, you might want to consider the way that the real world shows its presence in the novel, in teh form of the impact of World War II on the community in Cannery Row. Such facts seem to cast into doubt the existence of a utopia that is perfectly free from evil and violence. Steinbeck seems to point towards the way in which the outside world and human nature will always render a utopia imperfect or dystopian.
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