Cannery Row Chapter 15 Summary
by John Steinbeck

Start Your Free Trial

Chapter 15 Summary

Chapter 15 returns to Mack, the boys, the landowner, and his dog. The boys have left their campsite and gone up the hill to the farmhouse, where Mack is in the kitchen preparing the Epsom salt poultice for the injured dog's shoulder. As he works, the dog's numerous puppies fight for dominance at her teats for milk. The poor dog wearily looks to Mack, her eyes conveying her weariness and seeming to seek his empathy. 

Download Cannery Row Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The owner watches Mack, grateful to learn how to treat a tick bite. Mack tells him that in addition to healing her shoulder, the owner also needs to get her puppies weaned; they are too old to still be nursing, and the effort to continue providing milk to them is dangerously wearing the mother down. 

The captain (as the owner is also called) confesses that he knows that they ought to have been weaned and, furthermore, he should not have allowed so many puppies to live. Mack is horrified and asks whether the captain really would have drowned them. The captain skirts the questions and instead tells Mack of his wife's involvement in politics. Since she has been elected to the Assembly, she is rarely home. The captain is frustrated and lonely. 

Mack changes the subject too. He mentions that he could make a "real bird dog" out of one of the puppies in three years. The captain is delighted to offer him one, the pick of the litter. He is happy to see someone appreciate a good, working dog.

So pleased is the captain with Mack that he soon feels them not to be an intrusion at all; rather, they are welcome companions to his isolated life. Mack offers to allow the captain to join the collecting run and the man enthusiastically accepts. The landowner offers Mack and the boys a drink before they go out on their now-approved collecting run. Soon, having a "short one" turns into having many. It is a couple of hours later before all remember their task for the evening. 

Quietly, the hunting party heads out to the pools. Humans have been hunting frogs for...

(The entire section is 539 words.)