Cannery Row Chapter 11 Summary
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 11 Summary

Chapter 11 begins with a history of Lee Chong's ancient Model T. In 1923, the vehicle had belonged to a doctor, who pampered the truck for five years. It was sold in mint condition to an insurance man, who drove it hard and drove it drunk. Eventually, the battered truck was passed to a new owner in a deplorable state. The new owner cut it up in order to add a new truck bed. The truck's next owner was not good at managing his money and traded it to Lee Chong to pay off his tab. It needed lots of work, which Lee did not do, so it sat deteriorating in his lot behind the store until Gay came to fix it. 

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Gay is an "inspired mechanic" and soon is able to pinpoint the exact problems that needs to be attended to in order for the jalopy to run. He orders the boys to do this and that, get him parts, inflate the tires, and so on. Finally, he has it running but it still needs a few things to continue doing so. What is most needed, Gay determines, are dry cells. Mack is dispatched to Lee Chong's to see if he can get some on credit. Mack returns almost immediately to deliver Lee's refusal.  

Gay mulls over the problem and confesses that he knows where they could get some: at his house, down in the cellar. The only difficulty will be getting them without his wife seeing them being taken. This is not a challenge Gay is willing to take up himself; one of the other boys will have to brave it. A meeting is called and Eddie is selected for the task. 

While Eddie is gone, Gay further inspects the truck's major problems. The largest was the brakes, insomuch as they did not exist. However, Gay knows that in a Model T, one can use reverse as a brake. He checks the gear band and is pleased to find it relatively in tact. Gay feels that it is in good enough shape to get their job done.

Mechanical problems aside, the boys face other problems in regard to using the truck for their expedition. It lacks license plates and it does not have headlights,...

(The entire section is 560 words.)