Chapter 1 Summary

Steinbeck's novel opens with a poetic description of a town that most people probably would not associate with the poetic ideal. Canneries, by their nature, are smelly places, usually inhabited by the lower classes, men and women of multiple ages and ethnicities, who struggle day-to-day. But Steinbeck sees past the hard work, squalid conditions, and difficult lives. To the author, Cannery Row is not only "a stink" and a "grating noise" but also a "quality of light" and "a dream." Throughout the work, reality and dream will play yin and yang to its denizens: among them are Mack and the boys, who inhabit the Palace Flop House; Lee Chong, who runs the areas only grocery and general supply store; Dora and her "girls" who tend the local...

(The entire section is 681 words.)